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Your Child

Should Facebook Delete Its Messenger Kids App?

2:00

A battle is brewing between groups of child advocates, medical experts and Facebook over their Messenger Kids app.

The 19 groups say in a open letter to Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg , that the app could pose health and developmental risks to children 13 and under. They want to see the app removed.

According to an article in the Washington Post, the groups assert that children are not prepared for online relationships and don't have an understanding of privacy and the appropriateness of sharing texts, pictures and videos

Facebook’s Messenger Kids app is designed for kids 13 and under. According to Facebook’s website, the app makes “it easier for kids to safely video chat and message with family and friends when they can’t be together in person.” Facebook says that parents have control over the app’s functions and contacts.

The letter, organized by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said research suggests a link between social media use and higher rates of depression among teens, and said it's irresponsible to expose preschool children to the Messenger Kids app.

Also included in the letter are concerns that increasing children's screen time could interfere with important development skills such as interacting with the physical world, delaying gratification and reading other people's emotions, the Post reported.

Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, believes that children don’t need their own social media account.

"We are at a pivotal moment, and the tech companies need to decide if they are going to act in a way that is more ethical and more responsive to the needs of children and families, or are they gong to continue to pursue profits at the expense of children's well-being?"

Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head of safety, responded in a statement to the Post that, "We worked to create Messenger Kids with an advisory committee of parenting and developmental experts, as well as with families themselves and in partnership with National PTA. We continue to be focused on making Messenger Kids the best experience it can be for families."

Recent studies have suggested that social media outlets take kids away from activities that are more valuable to their mental and physical health such as sports, exercise and face-to-face interaction with family and friends.

This generation of children will never know a time when apps didn’t exist.  Many parents are concerned that their teens already spend too much time worrying about and interacting on social media and they’re not quite sure that they want their younger children starting down that road so early.

Story sources: https://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20180130/groups-ask-facebook-to-scrap-messenger-kids-app

http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/sites/default/files/devel-generat...

 

 

Your Child

Botox for Children’s Migraine Headaches

2:30

If your child suffers from migraines, Botox may be able to help. Typically thought of as a beauty enhancement, Botox has also become an effective treatment for people that experience 15 or more migraine attacks each month.

Botox is a form of a toxin that temporarily freezes the muscles. It helps to prevent migraines by blocking muscle spasms.

Since Botox has been approved for treating adults with migraines, researchers from the University of California, Irvine, wanted to know if Botox would also work for children and adolescents.

The study included nine children and adolescents between ages 8 and 17 years of age. Over a period of five years, the participants received treatments every 12 weeks, and saw significant decreases in the frequency and severity of their headaches. The Botox had no major side effects.

Initially, the children and teens reported their pain levels during migraines as being between four and eight, on average. After Botox injections, these levels fell to a rant of 1.75 to five. Originally, they had experienced migraines anywhere from eight to nearly 30 days of each month, but after Botox, the patients got between two and 10 monthly migraines.

The study noted that many adults that have migraines began having them as children. By the time they receive the Botox treatments, they’ve been suffering for many years.

Dr Shalini Shah, one of the study’s co-authors told Daily Mail Online that management of children’s migraines mostly comes down to trial and error.
Typical treatment for children with migraines includes over the counter or prescription Tylenol or Advil.  If those drugs don’t help, a child might be prescribed a seizure medication, which Shah says children don’t tolerate well.

Shah has been using Botox off-label to treat migraines in her pediatric patients for years.

‘Most of the kids I get [as patients] are being home-schooled,’ she says. Their migraines are so debilitating, and, in many cases last multiple days, that they are not able to attend regular school and keep up with assignments.

What’s worse, she says, is that other treatments - like Advil, Tylenol or seizure medications – are sedatives that can make children drowsy and nauseous.

The treatments for migraines themselves leave children ‘half-asleep, and that’s no way to really live,’ she says. Both migraines and their medications cause children to struggle in school.

To treat migraines, Botox is injected at several sites at the front, back and sides of the head and in the neck, in both adults and children.

 Shah says that Botox has been used to treat many other forms of head pain in children, including headaches with other causes, like cancer. But the FDA hasn’t approved its use for migraines simply because ‘it’s never been systematically studied,’ she says.

Shah recommends that parents who are considering taking their child for Botox treatment make sure that they find a physician with plenty of experience.

While side effects may be low, Botox is not risk-free.

The primary risk with Botox is that the toxin could travel to other parts of the body. Even locally, if it traveled just slightly from the injection site, clinicians have to worry that it could paralyze muscles used in breathing or freeze the neck in an odd or uncomfortable position.
So far, the study authors have not observed these or other longer-term effects after giving more than 1,000 injections, Shah said.

There is no way to completely prevent the chemical from traveling, but someone experienced giving Botox injections is the best way to reduce risks.

Shah says that these results ‘demonstrate promise’ to finally provide more than a trial and error approach to preventing and treating migraines in children and teens, but she says that the forthcoming, larger trial is needed to prove that Botox is safe and effective for a younger demographic.
The study’s results were presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Anesthesiology 2017 annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.  The research team noted that about 60 percent of visits to pediatric headache specialists are for migraines.

Story source: Natalie Rahhal, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5009487/Botox-help-prevent-migraines-children-teens.html#ixzz56NhzVLuK 
 

Your Child

Measles Outbreaks Continue to Grow

2:00

The current outbreak of measles in Ellis County, Texas, is another example of why vaccinations are important in preventing infectious communicable diseases.

Ellis County health officials have confirmed that the people who had not been vaccinated contracted the 6 cases of measles.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by a virus. Ninety percent of people who haven’t been vaccinated will get it if they are near an infected person. The people at highest risk of getting measles during these outbreaks are infants (who aren't old enough to get the vaccine), pregnant women, and people with poor nutrition or weakened immune systems.

Some people have proposed that measles is not a serious disease and therefore children do not need to be vaccinated. It’s true that some children do not experience more than a rash and fever for a few days, but children younger than 5 years of age are more likely to suffer complications that can be quite serious. They also expose others to the virus.

Common complications can include ear infections that can cause hearing loss and diarrhea that can result in dehydration.

More serious complications include pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain) – both of which can require hospitalization and may result in death.

I think it’s safe to say that nearly all parents of young children today were not even born when a vaccine for measles became available in 1963. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) in the decade before that, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. It is estimated 3 to 4 million people in the United States were infected each year. Also each year an estimated 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 4,000 suffered encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from measles.

In 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. This was thanks to a highly effective vaccination program in the United States, as well as better measles control in the Americas region. 

Then came a fraudulent 1998 study published in The Lancet, that suggested the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine could trigger autism.  Numerous investigations and follow-up studies determined that there is no link between the MMH vaccine and autism, but that hasn’t deterred some parents from making sure their child receives the vaccine. Therefore, putting their own child and other children at risk for infection.

Slowly but surely, reported measles cases have increased in the U.S. with a high reaching 667 in 2014. Last year’s count was 120 reported cases.

Measles is not a “safe” disease to experiment with and children’s health organizations worldwide agree that parents need to have their children immunized with the MMH vaccine.

Story source: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html

Jason Terk, MD, https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2018/01/24/ellis-county-measles-outbreak-shows-vaccination-crucial

Your Child

Former NFL Pros Want to End Kids’ Tackle Football

2:30

Many professional football players began their quest to reach the National Football League (NFL) when they were kids. They practiced and played hard. No one thought about concussions or the damage that might be happening to the athletes’ young brains.

Now, a group of former NFL players including such greats as Hall of Famers Harry Carson of the New York Giants and Nick Buoniconti of the Miami Dolphins are calling for an end to tackle football for kids under 14 years old.

The group is instead endorsing a program called "Flag Football Under 14," launched by the Concussion Legacy Foundation. The program aims to educate parents and young players about chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Sometimes called CTE, it is a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head, and has been detected in more than 85 percent of tackle football players studied over the past 10 years, according to the foundation.

The foundation hopes to help parents make better decisions about their children’s health when playing contact sports. For some people, this new approach to football sounds like a softening of young athletes; they aren’t quite ready to accept that tackle football is anything to worry about. The former NFL greats hope parents will listen with an open mind.

"This education program for parents is inspired by the last decade of research on CTE, which has revealed that the best way to prevent CTE in football players is to delay enrolling in tackle football until 14," Dr. Robert Cantu, the foundation's medical director, said in a news release from the organization.

"We cannot overstate the absurdity of allowing 7-year-olds to receive 500 head impacts a season just because they happen to be getting exercise at the time," added Chris Nowinski, the foundation's chief executive officer who played football at Harvard University.

The football veterans want parents and kids to know that playing flag football when they are young, will not impact their chances of making it to the NFL in the future.

Many NFL greats didn't start playing tackle football until they were 14 years old, including Jim Brown, Tom Brady, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Lawrence Taylor, according to the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

"To parents who want their children to experience football, they should not play tackle football until 14," Carson said. "I did not play tackle football until high school, and I will not allow my grandson to play until 14, as I believe it is not an appropriate sport for young children."

Buoniconti, a Dolphins linebacker, now suffers from dementia and has been diagnosed with probable CTE.

"I made a mistake starting tackle football at 9 years old," Buoniconti said in the news release. "Now, CTE has taken my life away. Youth tackle football is all risk with no reward."

The consequences of CTE are not only personally devastating to a player and his family and friends, but can be fatal as well.

Former Pro Bowl Oakland Raiders linebacker Phil Villapiano added, "I watched my teammate Ken Stabler [a quarterback elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 2016] deteriorate and die from CTE. At some point those of us who have had success in this game must speak up to protect both football players and the future of the game, and supporting Flag Football Under 14 is our best way to do that."

Story source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://consumer.healthday.com/fitness-information-14/football-health-news-250/former-nfl-pros-push-for-end-to-kids-tackle-football-730342.html

 

 

Your Child

Protecting Your Child’s Skin in Winter

3:00

Between the cold weather outdoors and the dry heat indoors, your child’s skin can become dry, itchy and irritated.

Dry skin is a common problem in winter because as the humidity level drops and the air cools, the water in your skin evaporates more quickly. Babies and small children’s skin is very delicate and more susceptible to drying out.

As the temperatures drop outside, we naturally tend to spend more time indoors. This time, it’s the heat in the house that sucks the moisture out of the air. Dry indoor air not only dries out your skin, it also dries out your mucous membranes, leading to dry, chapped lips, dry noses (nosebleeds), and dry throat (hoarseness, sore throat).

There are several ways you can help combat these skin irritating scenarios.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. The general rule is the thicker the better. If your child's skin is still dry even with daily moisturizing, try switching from a lotion to a thicker cream or ointment. Ointments are best at keeping moisture in the skin, but they can feel greasy. Just use small amounts and gently rub it into the skin. Creams rub in without leaving a greasy feel on the skin.

You might also want to consider moisturizing twice a day – once after bathing and once during the day. If your child doesn't have the patience for a midday slather, you might let them listen to a favorite song or watch a video while you apply the moisturizer. Or, if he or she is old enough, let them do it by themselves, if that makes the routine more agreeable.

Make sure that your child is well hydrated. Dry skin lacks moisture. Offer your child plenty to drink year-round to replace the moisture that's evaporating from his or her skin. If your child is still a baby, stick with breast milk or formula for at least the first six months, unless his doctor advises otherwise.

Keep in mind that drinking a lot of water won't do anything if you don't moisturize as well. It's like pouring water into a bucket with a hole, says Seth Orlow, Director of pediatric dermatology at New York University School of Medicine.

Without moisturizer to hold in the water, your child's skin won't properly hydrate.

Trim back on bath time. Bathing dries a child's skin because it removes the skin's natural oils along with the dirt. Instead of a 30-minute bath, cut bath time down to about 10 minutes. Use warm water – not hot – and soap up sparingly. In fact, Orlow suggests using a fragrance-free, soap-free cleanser, which is much less harsh than regular soap.

Once you take your child out of the bath, quickly pat him dry with a towel, and then apply moisturizer immediately. Applying the moisturizer within minutes of taking your child out of the tub will seal in the water that's still in his skin from the bath.

To help with the dry air inside the home, make sure that you run a humidifier during the night when your little one is sleeping. Humidifiers can help soothe dry sinuses, bloody noses and cracked lips. They can also help ease symptoms of a cold or another respiratory condition.

When using a humidifier, make sure it is maintained properly and kept clean to avoid bacteria and mold. Find out what humidity levels are recommended by the manufacturer.

When outside, shield your child’s lip with thin layer of petroleum jelly or lip balm to create a barrier against the elements.

Protect against frostbite. Dress your baby in mittens and a hat or hood, and don't stay out too long. Extend the cover on your stroller to block the wind. If your baby's skin looks red, use a warm washcloth to restore circulation. This may take several applications over a period of time. Call your doctor if her skin color isn't normal in a couple hours.

Chapped skin, which gets ruddy, peels, and even cracked, usually strikes the face, bottom, or spots where skin rubs, like the folds at the wrists. "Chapped skin is basically dry skin that has become inflamed," says Peter Lio, MD, attending physician in dermatology at Children's Hospital Boston. Blame anything irritating: wind, friction from clothing, drool on the chin, a runny nose, or a wet diaper.

Spend as little time in the elements as possible, and bundle him up when you do go outside. Using a thick moisturizer such as Eucerin, Aquaphor, or petroleum jelly on your baby's cheeks (or other problem areas) will add to his natural barrier and help treat any skin that's already chapped.

It may be downright cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep your kids indoor 24/7. If you bundle your little one up in layers and cover their head, feet and hands, apply balms and preventative creams– they should be able to be outside for short periods – depending on the temperature and wind chill.

One other little fact that may surprise you, kids can get a heat rash if they become overheated from too many layers of clothing. Make sure to keep an eye on how they are doing and if you think they are getting overheated, have them come inside, rest a bit and remove some of the extra layers.

Story sources: https://www.babycenter.com/0_dry-skin-in-children_1515109.bc

Wendy Toth and Rebecca Felsenthal, https://www.parents.com/baby/care/skin/infant-winter-skin-symptoms/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/in-depth/humidifiers/art-20048021

Your Child

FDA Bans Certain Cough Medicines for Kids

2:30

 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA,) has added strict restrictions to the use of children’s cough medicines that contain opioids, such as codeine or oxycodone.

"After safety labeling changes are made, these products will no longer be indicated for use to treat cough in any pediatric population and will be labeled for use only in adults aged 18 years and older," the FDA said in a news release.

The country is in the middle of an opioid abuse epidemic that is devastating families in just about every state. An updated Boxed Warning label will also warn adult users "about the risks of misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose and death, and slowed or difficult breathing that can result from exposure to codeine or hydrocodone," the agency added.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the agency is concerned about exposing children to opioids unnecessarily.

“We know that any exposure to opioid drugs can lead to future addiction. It's become clear that the use of prescription, opioid-containing medicines to treat cough and cold in children comes with serious risks that don't justify their use in this vulnerable population,” Gottlieb said in the press release.

The new rules announced Thursday were "based on an extensive review of available data and expert advice," the agency said.

They go much further than the 2017 labeling rules -- restricting use of codeine-containing products to everyone under the age of 18, and including cough-and-cold products that contain a second drug, the opioid oxycodone.

In any case, there's little that can or should be done to ease most children's cough and colds, the FDA said.

"Experts indicated that although some pediatric cough symptoms do require treatment, cough due to a cold or upper respiratory infection typically does not require treatment," the agency said. "Moreover, the risks of using prescription opioid cough products in children of all ages generally outweigh the potential benefits."

The press release also pointed to known side effects of opioid medications, "drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, shortness of breath and headache."

The FDA recommends that parents currently using these medications for their child should speak with their child’s doctor about alternative therapies

It's always important to read medicine labeling, too -- even if it's not obtained by prescription.

"Caregivers should also read labels on non-prescription cough and cold products," the FDA said, because "some products sold over-the-counter in a few states may contain codeine or may not be appropriate for young children."

Story source: EJ Mundell, Health Day Reporter, https://www.webmd.com/drug-medication/news/20180111/fda-bans-opioid-containing-cough-meds-for-kids#1

Your Child

Testing Your Child for Hearing Problems

1:30

Hearing well is critical to a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development.  When hearing problems are diagnosed early, most are treatable. So it’s important to have your little one’s hearing tested, ideally by the time your baby is 3 months old.

Hearing loss is more common that you’d probably expect. It affects about 1 to 3 babies out of every 1,000.

Although many things can lead to hearing loss, about half the time, no cause is found.

Hearing loss can occur if a child:

•       Was born prematurely

•       Stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)

•       Had newborn jaundice with bilirubin level high enough to require a blood transfusion

•       Was given medications that can lead to hearing loss

•       Has family members with childhood hearing loss

•       Had certain complications at birth

•       Had many ear infections

•       Had infections such as meningitis or cytomegalovirus

•       Was exposed to very loud sounds or noises, even briefly

When should your child be evaluated for hearing loss? Newborns should have a hearing screening before being discharged from the hospital. Every state and territory in the U.S. has a program called Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI). The program identifies every child with permanent hearing loss before 3 months of age, and provides intervention services before 6 months of age. If your baby doesn't have this screening, or was born at home or a birthing center, it's important to have a hearing screening within the first 3 weeks of life.

If your newborn doesn't pass the initial hearing screening, it's important to get a retest within 3 months so treatment can begin right away. Treatment for hearing loss can be the most effective if it's started before a child is 6 months old.

Children who seem to have normal hearing should continue to have their hearing evaluated at regular doctor’s appointments from ages 4 to 10 years of age.

If your child seems to have trouble hearing, if speech development seems abnormal, or if your child's speech is difficult to understand, talk with your doctor.

Even if your newborn passes the hearing screening, continue to watch for signs that hearing is normal. Some hearing milestones your child should reach in the first year of life:

•       Most newborn infants startle or "jump" to sudden loud noises.

•       By 3 months, a baby usually recognizes a parent's voice.

•       By 6 months, a baby can usually turn his or her eyes or head toward a sound.

•       By 12 months, a baby can usually imitate some sounds and produce a few words, such as "Mama" or "bye-bye."

As your baby grows into a toddler, signs of a hearing loss may include:

•       Limited, poor, or no speech

•       Frequently inattentive

•       Difficulty learning

•       Seems to need higher TV volume

•       Fails to respond to conversation-level speech or answers inappropriately to speech

•       Fails to respond to his or her name or easily frustrated when there's a lot of background noise 

There are several ways your child’s hearing can be tested depending on his or her age, development and health.

During behavioral tests, an audiologist carefully watches a child respond to sounds like calibrated speech (speech that is played with a particular volume and intensity) and pure tones. A pure tone is a sound with a very specific pitch (frequency), like a note on a keyboard.

An audiologist may know an infant or toddler is responding by his or her eye movements or head turns. A preschooler may move a game piece in response to a sound, and a grade-schooler may raise a hand. Children can respond to speech with activities like identifying a picture of a word or repeating words softly.

Doctors can also examine a child for hearing loss by looking at how well his or her ear, nerves and brain are functioning.

If a hearing problem is suspected, a pediatric audiologist specializing in testing and helping kids with hearing loss can be contacted. They work closely with doctors, teachers, and speech/language pathologists.

Audiologists have a lot of specialized training. They have a Masters or Doctorate degree in audiology, have performed internships, and are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CCC-A) or are Fellows of the American Academy of Audiology (F-AAA).

Children with certain types of hearing loss have several options for treatment. They may be helped with surgery or hearing aids. The most common type of hearing loss involves outer hair cells that do not work properly. Hearing aids can make sounds louder and overcome this problem.

A cochlear implant is a surgical treatment for hearing loss; this device doesn't cure hearing loss, but is a device that gets placed into the inner ear to send sound directly to the hearing nerve. It can help children with profound hearing loss who do not benefit from hearing aids.

Making sure that your child is hearing well is one of the first steps you can take to helping him or her do well socially, academically and developmentally.

Story source: Thierry Morlet, PhD, Rupal Christine Gupta, MD,

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/hear.html

 

Your Child

Hand Sanitizers Poisoning Young Children

2:00

Poison control centers across America have been seeing an increase in calls about children who are getting very sick from drinking hand sanitizers. Poison control officials are warning parents and school officials about this dangerous trend involving small children, basically getting drunk, on hand sanitizer.

“A doctor called us about a week and a half ago about two cases he saw the same day at the ER,” says Gaylord Lopez, PharmD, director of the Georgia Poison Center. “It was a 5- and a 6-year-old.”

The first patient, a 6-year-old girl, was picked up after school stumbling and slurring her words. She’d also fallen and hit her head. Her mother drove her straight to the ER, where doctors found out she’d eaten two to three squirts of strawberry-scented hand sanitizer from a big container sitting on her teacher’s desk.

Her blood alcohol level was 1.79, almost twice what would be considered the legal limit in an adult.

The second case was a 5-year-old boy, who came in with a blood alcohol level of 2.0. The culprit was hand sanitizer.

Lopez checked the national data and saw these cases were part of an unrecognized trend. In 2010, U.S. poison centers got more than 3,600 calls about kids under age 12 eating hand sanitizers. By 2013, that number had swelled to more than 16,000 calls.

“That’s a 400 percent increase,” Lopez says. “I was surprised more than anyone.”

Many of the hand sanitizer bottles come in bright colors and the sanitizer itself smells like bubble gum and other tasty treats such as lemonade and vanilla. All aromas a child might mistake for the real thing.

The big problem with these products are that they can be anywhere from 40 to 95 percent alcohol.

Drinking even just little bit can make kids intoxicated. It’s like drinking a shot or two of hard liquor.

“You and I don’t have any problem sending our kids with hand sanitizer in their backpacks. But what if I told you that was twice as potent as vodka. That’s like a parent sending a bottle of whiskey or rum to school,” Lopez says.

Alcohol poisoning can cause a child’s heart rate, blood pressure and breathing to slow. They may stagger, seem sleepy and vomit. Their blood sugar can drop rapidly leading to seizures and coma.

Lopez says hand sanitizers are often included in the list of school supplies parents should send to school. He says many adults he’s talked to don’t realize that hand sanitizers contain so much alcohol, or they don’t realize that it’s the kind of alcohol that can cause intoxication.

“I wanted to get the word out. Parents should be aware. Teachers should be aware.”

If you have hand sanitizer at home, keep it out of the reach of young children. If you send hand sanitizer with your child to school- especially during the flu and cold season- use the wipes instead.

You can learn more about hand sanitizer poisoning by calling the American Association of Poison Control Center for free advice at 1-800-222-1222.

If you suspect your child may have ingested sanitizer and is showing any of the above symptoms, take your child to the hospital immediately.

Source: Brenda Goodman, MA, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20150915/hand-sanitizers-poisoning-kids

Your Child

New Flu Vaccine for 2015-2016

1:45

Last year’s flu vaccine wasn’t as effective as previous vaccines, but this year’s vaccine should be a much better match according to Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   

Typically, the vaccine is 50 to 60 percent effective, making your chances of getting the flu reduced by as much as 60 percent if you get a flu shot.

This year’s flu vaccine contains the H3N2 strain, Frieden said. Last year's vaccine was only 13 percent effective against the H3N2 strain. As a result, "more seniors were hospitalized for the flu than ever before."

What's more, 145 children died from the flu, Frieden said, adding that the actual number was "probably much higher since many flu deaths aren't reported."

About 50 percent of the American population gets vaccinated every flu season. That includes pregnant women. More people, including pregnant women, need to be vaccinated, Frieden said.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get the flu shot every year.

Frieden said there's an adequate supply of flu vaccine this year. Companies are expected to make 170 million doses of vaccine, of which 40 million have already been distributed, he said.

People at risk of flu-related complications include young children, especially those younger than 2 years; people over 65; pregnant women; and people with chronic health problems, such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes, as well as those with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC.

Most seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.

Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

The CDC encourages people to get a flu shot preferably by October. Those children aged 6 months through 8 years who need two doses of vaccine should receive the first dose as soon as possible to allow time to get the second dose before the start of flu season. The two doses should be given at least four weeks apart.

During this flu season:

•       Intramuscular (IM) vaccines will be available in both trivalent and quadrivalent formulations. (High dose vaccines, which are IM vaccines, will all be trivalent this season.)

•       For people who are 18 through 64 years old, a jet injector can be used for delivery of one particular trivalent flu vaccine.

•       Nasal spray vaccines will all be quadrivalent this season.

•       Intradermal vaccine will all be quadrivalent.

The quadrivalent flu vaccine is designed to protect against four different flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.

It’s hard to believe that we’re about to head into the flu season, particularly with so many states still experiencing summer like weather. But we are, and getting a flu shot early can help protect you and your family from a virus no one wants to get.

Sources: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/flu-news-314/no-embargo-this-year-s-flu-vaccine-better-match-703392.html

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2015-2016.htm

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