Today's guest blog entry is by Carol J. Baker, MD, FAAP, FIDSA, moderator for the Childhood Influenza Immunization Coalition; professor of pediatrics, molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine; and immediate past president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
Have you protected your family against influenza this season?
Many Americans who receive annual influenza immunization do so at some point during October and November, with immunizations dropping off significantly around Thanksgiving. Many parents and health care professionals alike don't realize that it is beneficial to immunize against influenza in December, and even well into the New Year.
This is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Families Fighting Flu declared Dec. 9 the second annual Children's Flu Vaccination Day. The day is part of the CDC's National Influenza Vaccination Week, and was established to remind parents about the need to immunize all children (6 months through 18 years of age) and their contacts against influenza.
Parents may not realize that many doctors' offices still have influenza vaccine available in the winter months. Influenza outbreaks typically peak in February and continue until around May. Since the influenza vaccine takes only about two weeks to provide protection, we still have time to protect our families against this serious and potentially deadly disease.
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases' Childhood Influenza Immunization Coalition, of which the American Public Health Association is a member, applauds CDC and Families Fighting Flu for establishing this day. The coalition has a variety of educational materials about influenza and vaccination available at www.PreventChildhoodInfluenza.org, including a short informational video. Spanish information is available at www.PrevengaLaGripeInfantil.org.