The Time is Now to Vaccinate for Flu - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

The Time is Now to Vaccinate for Flu

WASHINGTON, D.C.  (NBC News) - Get your kids their flu vaccines now, pediatricians advise  

Parents should get their kids - and themselves - vaccinated against flu as soon as possible, pediatricians advised on Monday.  

There are some new vaccines on the market and while some of the newer ones might appear better, it's not worth waiting for one, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in an advisory.

"With the exception of children less than 6 months of age, everybody should go out and get their influenza vaccine as soon as the influenza vaccines are available," Dr. Michael Brady of Nationwide Children's Hospital and chairman of the Committee on Infectious Diseases for the Academy told NBC News.

"Parents should not delay vaccinating their children to obtain a specific vaccine," added pediatrician Dr. Henry Bernstein of the Hofstra North Shore - Long Island Jewish Health System in New York, who led the team writing the recommendations.

"Influenza virus is unpredictable, and what's most important is that people receive the vaccine soon, so that they will be protected when the virus begins circulating."          

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that anywhere between 3,000 to 49,000 people a year die from flu in the United States, and up to 200,000 are sick enough to be hospitalized. A lot depends on the strains circulating. During last year's flu season, 160 children died from flu.

This year, some companies are making new vaccines that protect against four strains of influenza. "Normally, there are three strains in the influenza vaccines," Brady said.

"Normally the vaccine would have two influenza A strains, an H1N1 and an H3N2 strain, and one B strain." Some of the new vaccines will protect against two different B strains of flu.

Doctors are a little worried that people will hear there is a new and possibly better flu vaccine and will hold out to get it, the group says in a statement published in the journal Pediatrics.

"Theoretically, four strains sounds better than three strains. We just don't have data to support that that's actually the case," Brady said. "The AAP is not going to recommend a preference, but that doesn't mean that parents don't have a preference."

One popular vaccine, the needle-free FluMist version, will be a four-strain vaccine.

"Some parents would prefer that their child didn't need to have an injection. So the mist has an advantage from that point of view," Brady noted.

"The companies can't make enough four-strain vaccines to meet all the demands, so for (the) 2013-2014 influenza season, providers are going to have a mixture of the different vaccines," Brady said.

"Hopefully by 2014-2015 season, all of the vaccines will be four strains."

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