Flu Shot – Are you protected?

A simple vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the flu. It may sound like a minor illness, but it can cause big problems for some people. It can even be deadly.

Learn the facts about the vaccine so you and your family can stay flu-free.

When Should I Get It?

Peak flu season can start as early as October and run through May. The best time to get a flu shot is as soon as it’s available, usually in September or October. It takes about 2 weeks for the vaccine to take effect. You can still get a shot in December or later, but the earlier you get it, the higher your odds of staying well.

What Types of Vaccine Can I Get?

  • The traditional flu shot is an injection into your arm muscle. It’s made from pieces of inactive flu viruses.
  • An egg-free flu shot, unlike other types, isn’t grown inside eggs. It’s an option for people over age 18 who have severe egg allergies.
  • The high-dose flu shot is for people ages 65 and older. They may need a stronger dose to get the same protection.
  • An intradermal flu shot uses a tiny needle that only goes skin deep. It’s for people ages 18 to 64.
  • The nasal spray flu vaccine (FluMist) doesn’t use a needle. It’s made from live but weakened flu viruses. Another name for it is LAIV (live attenuated influenza vaccine). It’s for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who aren’t pregnant, who are not allergic to the flu vaccine or any of its ingredients, and who don’t have weak immune systems. It should not be used for the 2016-2017 flu season. Check with your doctor to make sure it’s right for you.

Some vaccines protect against more than one flu virus strain. Trivalent vaccines work against three strains; quadrivalent vaccines fight four types of flu. The traditional flu shot comes in both forms. High-dose only comes in the trivalent form.


Ear infection?

What are the symptoms of an Ear Infection?

Your child may have many symptoms during an ear infection. Talk with your pediatrician about the best way to treat your child’s symptoms.

  • Pain. The most common symptom of an ear infection is pain. Older children can tell you that their ears hurt. Younger children may only seem irritable and cry. You may notice this more during feedings because sucking and swallowing may cause painful pressure changes in the middle ear.
  • Loss of appetite. Your child may have less of an appetite because of the ear pain.
  • Trouble sleeping. Your child may have trouble sleeping because of the ear pain.
  • Fever. Your child may have a temperature ranging from 100°F (normal) to 104°F.
  • Ear drainage. You might notice yellow or white fluid, possibly blood-tinged, draining from your child’s ear. The fluid may have a foul odor and will look different from normal earwax (which is orange-yellow or reddish-brown). Pain and pressure often decrease after this drainage begins, but this doesn’t always mean that the infection is going away. If this happens it’s not an emergency, but your child will need to see your pediatrician.
  • Trouble hearing. During and after an ear infection, your child may have trouble hearing for several weeks. This occurs because the fluid behind the eardrum gets in the way of sound transmission. This is usually temporary and clears up after the fluid from the middle ear drains away.

Important: Your doctor cannot diagnose an ear infection over the phone; your child’s eardrum must be examined by your doctor to confirm fluid buildup and signs of inflammation.

Other causes of ear pain

There are other reasons why your child’s ears may hurt besides an ear infection. The following can cause ear pain:

  • An infection of the skin of the ear canal, often called “swimmer’s ear”
  • Reduced pressure in the middle ear from colds or allergies
  • A sore throat
  • Teething or sore gums
  • Inflammation of the eardrum alone during a cold (without fluid buildup)

Getting Ready for The Winter

Ever see another kid wipe his runny nose on the back of his hand, then keep playing with your daughter? Cringe.

Kids do share a lot of germs. But you can teach children as young as 2 or 3 the habits to help them avoid catching or spreading a cold or the flu.

They will probably need some practice. “Teach them over and over,” says Denver pediatrician Jerry Rubin, MD, co-author of Naturally Healthy Kids. It’s worth it.

Show your kids these five steps:

1. Wash your hands.

Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent colds and flu.

Help your child lather up with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. To help her know how long that is, “sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice,” says Atlanta pediatrician Jennifer Shu, MD. Then have her rinse and dry hands well.

Let her know when to wash her hands. “I usually say wash after going to the bathroom, before eating, after coming in from outside, after using a tissue, and when the hands look dirty,” Shu says.

If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer instead.

2. Use separate cups and utensils.

Kids often share drinks and food. But when someone has a cold or the flu, that can spread viruses.

Rubin recommends never sharing food or drinks, even if no one is sick. That makes the habit stick. Remember, people are often contagious before they start coughing or sniffling.

The same goes for you. “Parents can set a good example by doing the same and practicing in front of their children,” says Yvonne Maldonado, MD, professor of pediatrics at Stanford School of Medicine.

3. Cough into your arm.

Teach your child to cough or sneeze into the inside of her elbow.

“In my opinion, the arm-crook sneeze/cough is the best public health invention since soap,” says pediatrician David Hill, MD.

Show your child how. They should find it simple and silly enough to copy.

4. Get enough rest.

Kids need to get enough sleep: 10 to 11 hours a night for school-age children (ages 5 to 10) and more for younger kids. That can help their immune system work well and help them recover faster from cold or flu, Rubin says.

When your child has the flu, she’ll probably want to sleep more. If she only has a cold and seems as active as ever, ask her to lie down and rest for a while, even if she doesn’t fall asleep. Calm background music may help.

Tell her, “Just like eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep helps your body stay strong and fight germs,” Shu says.

5. It’s OK to postpone a playdate.

Help your children understand that when they’re sick, they need to stay home. If they go to playdates, birthday parties, and other activities when they’re not feeling well, they can spread their germs.

Teach them how to be a good citizen, that you occasionally don’t get to go to the ballgame because you’re sick, so you give your tickets to somebody else. If your child is healthy and her friend has the sniffles, remind her to wash her hands before and after the playdate, and ask her not to touch her friend’s hands.