Everything you need to know about Flu Season 2010

Everything you need to know about Flu Season 2010

Last year’s Swine Flu had everyone on HIGH ALERT. So this year we want to be fully prepared for what’s to come. To set your mind at ease, I consulted with Society Hill Pediatrics about the particulars of the upcoming cold and flu season.

Q. I understand that the H1N1 and Seasonal Flu vaccines have been combined this year, but can you explain exactly who needs the shot and if a booster is required?
A. Coming from a very atypical flu season last year, the ground rules for flu shot administration this season are a bit confusing. I understand the CDC is recommending everyone receive flu vaccine this year—as opposed to past years, when the CDC focused on high-risk individuals. Would you mind clarifying?

• Anyone 9 years and over requires just one dose of flu vaccine – whether given as Flumist or a standard shot
• Any child age 6 months – 8 years who has had no H1N1 vaccine in the past requires two doses of Flu vaccine this year
• Any child age 6 months-8 years with a normal flu vaccine history (i.e., two doses in any one year, and one dose in subsequent years) and with any H1N1 (one OR two doses last year) requires only one dose of vaccine this year.
• Any child age 6 months-8 years with H1N1 vaccine last year, but either no prior seasonal flu vaccine or incomplete seasonal flu (i.e., no season with two shots given a month apart) will require two doses this year.

Q. What if a baby turns 6 months of age after the October/November time frame when most people are vaccinated? If a baby turns six months in January, should she be vaccinated then?
A. Absolutely. That is the height of the flu season.

Q. Last year we got the message—loud and clear—that washing hands is critical. What about hand sanitizers? Are they as effective? I know how dangerous alcohol can be around children – What about the natural, non-alcohol-based sanitizers?
A. Alcohol-based sanitizers (for adults), natural sanitizers (for babies and tots), cleansing towelettes and plain old soap and water are all effective, as long as they’re applied for at least 30 seconds, with friction.

Q. What else can we do for our little ones to keep this year’s strains at bay?
A. Keep them active. If it’s too cold for outdoor recreation, play inside with small groups of healthy children. But be mindful that large, indoor play venues are loaded with germs and the potential for contagion is high—so stay away from ball pits and big play zones. Ventilate their rooms. Crack the windows whenever you can (weather permitting) to keep fresh air circulating. Clean surfaces hit by sneezes or used tissues with bleach-based wipes so as not to pass germs to other family members. Wash toys frequently. During and after illnesses, put plush toys in the wash and clean hard toys with wipes to reduce re-infection. Discard toothbrushes after illness.

Q. What about the stomach flu? Do probiotics do anything to prevent/manage stomach flu?
A. There are small studies that show that daily probiotics in children with diarrhea may cut symptoms by a day. There are larger studies in Europe looking at preschoolers who took probiotics daily versus those who didn’t. The tots who did had a significant reduction in colds and upper respiratory infections, so there certainly is a rationale for regular daily use through cold and flu season.

Q. If all else fails and our children still get sick – How should we treat their discomfort? What about the recent recalls on Tylenol and Motrin?
A. Generics are just fine in this era of recalls and shortages. Triaminic has just come out with a new branded acetaminophen; it is no different or better than generics or Tylenol, but its presence adds to the pool of available options. Other over-the-counter cold remedies haven’t been proven to be effective in young children, so if your child is especially uncomfortable, speak to your health care provider for specific guidance.

Q. What about Natural remedies?
A. If you don’t have access to acetaminophen or ibuprofen, then old fashioned methods of cooling a fever can be used—ingesting lots of cold liquids, dressing in light layers, taking frequent baths/showers, or placing lukewarm compresses on the body with moist towels. Under no circumstances should rubbing alcohol be put on a child (absorption can be significant and lead to potential toxicity). For colds, there is nothing better than fluids and humidity. Drink at least three times more fluids than normal, and promote looser secretions by taking showers, instilling saline into little noses clogged with thick boogies, and put a humidifier in your child’s room if the heat is on or your air is dry.

Boost your immune system naturally…

The weather is getting colder. It’s rainy. Colds and flu and rampant. How can you boost your immune system naturally? This soup had been a favorite natural remedy for years. I warn you – it is delicious and highly addictive!

Pumpkin Kale Soup

– 1 pound organic canned pumpkin (13-ounces)
– 4 cloves garlic, chopped
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
– 3 cups raw kale
– 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed (i keep the skin on for added nutrients)
– 1 medium white onion, chopped
– 2 large carrots, chopped
– 1 large red pepper, chopped
– 2 celery, chopped
– ¾ cup fresh or frozen corn
– 1 cup edamame
– ½ teaspoon sea salt
– ¼ teaspoon pepper
– ½ teaspoon nutmeg

1. Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic until tender.
2. Add the chicken or vegetable stock, potatoes, kale, carrots, celery, pepper, edamame and corn. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
3. Stir in the pumpkin, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook 5-10 minutes longer.

*Sometimes I will add the kale with the pumpkin to keep it from cooking as long.

How could being proactive change your life?

I apologize for the delay between posts – life got in the way. But I am up early this morning with renewed vigor. I have been making some positive (proactive) changes to my daily routine and I had been trying to find the perfect time to write and in doing so the day got in the way. I am committed to giving you my early morning hour – to share ideas, advice, recipes and love! I have been enjoying all the positive feedback I have received from friends and readers and look forward to keeping this a place to share the latest and greatest on health, nutrition, environment and family. Keep the feedback coming!

So what have I been proactive about?

Finding time to take care of myself. When my son Skyler was born almost 2 1/2 yrs ago I was on my way to the gym. I took such good care of myself: studying nutrition, daily workouts, pampering. And then…poof! What happened took over. All the sudden I was taking care of my son and husband and everything else seemed to take the back burner. Not in a negative way. But I stopped making a priority the things that let me unwind and feel good. Most importantly my workouts. I found it hard to find places I could workout with Skyler and a serious lack of childcare at fitness facilities in the City. Now – Skyler and I take a yoga class on Monday’s (kids can participate or play on the side – thank you, Iva!), mid week Skyler has started preschool and the first thing I do is head to the gym when I drop him off. It gets my workout in and out of the way! Even if I feel like I have a ton of other tings to do I can always fit in 30 minutes. I have also set up a solution at home. Skyler and I have yoga mats to stretch on and some equipment to fit in a quick stretch, yoga class or core strength exercises.

Taking care of yourself goes beyond just exercise. Taking care of your appearance can also make you feel your best. For me that means manicures/pedicures. I have arranged a mommies and manicures event at my favorite salon (POSH in Northern Liberties) to get together with friends and get pampered. To often we don’t take the time to do these things, but a little bit goes a long way. This way not only do we have great company, but also a few extra hands to take care of the kids. BE CAREFUL – I have picked this salon very carefully. They are impeccable about cleanliness and it is a new open space. There is no toxic smell and good ventilation. This point also comes to getting hair, waxing, whatever you like to do to make you feel your best!

How can you be your best if you do not take care of you?

Other things I have been proactive about – getting Skyler into preschool! He started his first few days last week and is doing great! He loves being surrounded by children his age and is thriving.

Working! I have partnered with the Nouveau Image and we are developing a new niche within the business to do more family friendly marketing and will be developing a lot of new events in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Keep posted!

How can being proactive change your life?