2015-2016 Influenza Season is Ramping Up
Flu activity is on the rise across the US, especially with more reports of severe influenza illness, particularly from H1N1. Most of the sicker patients are young to middle-aged adults, who have reportedly not been vaccinated. Nine deaths in children from influenza also have been reported this flu season. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Advisory for more information.
More Influenza Illness Suggests Need for More Rapid Antiviral Treatment
Children clinically presumed to have influenza should be considered for early antiviral treatment, when indicated, independent of laboratory confirmation or receipt of influenza vaccine. This crucial approach can help minimize morbidity and mortality, particularly in young children, and those who are hospitalized or who have underlying co-morbidities. Antiviral treatment should be started as soon as possible after influenza illness onset and should not be delayed while waiting for a confirmatory test result because early therapy provides the best outcomes. See the CDC Health Advisory for more information.
It’s More Important than Ever to Get Vaccinated
Vaccination is critical to protect children against influenza. Laboratory data documents that the viruses circulating in communities match the strains covered in the 2015-2016 influenza vaccines. Everyone 6 months of age and older needs influenza vaccine each season. It is NOT too late to be vaccinated and only takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop antibodies for protection against influenza. As flu activity increases, it is important to confirm that all children, particularly those at higher risk of developing serious influenza-related complications, have been vaccinated. This includes children with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes mellitus, hemodynamically significant cardiac disease, immunosuppression, or neurologic and neurodevelopmental disorders.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy on “Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2015-2016” emphasizes that special effort should be made to vaccinate specific groups, such as all child care providers and staff, and all women who are pregnant, are considering pregnancy, are in the postpartum period, or are breastfeeding during the influenza season.
The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reported detection of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H7N8 virus in a commercial turkey flock in Dubois County, Indiana. No human cases of HPAI H7N8 virus infection have been reported at this time. The CDC recommends the same protective measures for the HPAI H7N8 virus as is recommended for HPAI H5 outbreaks among domestic poultry.
For more information, see the AAP Red Book Online Influenza Resource page and the CDC FluView. The Protect Children from Influenza infographic identifies actions pediatricians can take to help protect children, especially those at highest risk. All “What’s the Latest with the Flu” messages are archived. Members of the AAP also have access to Flu Vaccine Recommendations Speaking Points and updates related to the 2015-16 Influenza Vaccine Supply.