School's in session, time to vaccinate the kids



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Posted on September 11, 2010 at 11:29 AM

Updated Saturday, Sep 11 at 11:46 AM

Laura Chang protected her whole family from the seasonal flu last year with vaccines.

"We all went in together. And the kids got the kids' ones and we got the adult ones," she said.

But like many parents, she hesitated to get her children the new swine flu vaccine.

"There was not enough information for me. I'm pretty conservative," she said.

And the vaccine, known as H1N1, was in short supply. Families who wanted it braved long lines. But that's all changed.

"This year we're going to have one vaccine that will include both the H1N1, which is expected to return, and the two other flu viruses that are circulating in the world and will probably show up here as well," said Dr. Jeff Duchin,Seattle King County Public Health.

Dr. Duchin is Chief of Epidemiology and Communicable Disease at Seattle King County Public Health. He says parents should feel reassured about getting kids immunized.

"All of the components of the vaccine have a very high safety record. And the H1N1 is no different than any of the others," he said.

The risk of not immunizing can be high. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20,000 kids under age 5 go to the hospital each year with flu complications. The swine flu hit kids especially hard.

"H1N1 caused many times more deaths in children than our recent seasonal flu viruses have," said Dr. Duchin.

To stay ahead of the flu bug, he says vaccinate kids now, because school's back in session.

"School age children are probably the most efficient transmitters of the flu. They're in very close contact for prolonged periods. And flu spreads very rapidly throughout the schools," he said.

And when flu hits, the most vulnerable children can't get the vaccine. Those are infants under six months old.

"The way to protect them is by immunizing those around them, their families and caregivers," said Dr. Duchin.

Parents who worry about the preservatives in vaccines can ask their health care provider for a vaccine that's made without them.