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Flu: Frustrating Experience for Pediatricians

Posted: 05/10/2018

Recent News Argus Op Ed by Dr. Tayloe

Pediatricians are frustrated by the lack of support they receive from families in trying to prevent unnecessary, preventable deaths caused by influenza viruses.  It is recommended that all persons from 6 months throughout the lifespan receive influenza vaccine every year.  Yet, way too many people refuse to take the flu vaccine, and to allow their children to have the vaccine, for mostly unscientific reasons.

More Americans die every year from influenza than from any other vaccine-preventable disease.  There were 276 deaths from flu in our state during this flu season.  Approximately one-half of the children who died in this year’s epidemic had no underlying medical condition that made them more at-risk to die from flu.  

In our practice, insurance companies are now penalizing the practice financially because parents refuse to allow their children to take flu vaccine.   It costs insurance companies a lot of money when there are preventable costs that occur because of poor influenza immunization rates.  Pediatricians feel that their efforts to prevent influenza illness, hospitalization, and death, along with their efforts to meet quality of care guidelines of insurance companies, are being undermined by parental anti-vaccine attitudes that make no sense.

At Goldsboro Pediatrics, we have never had a patient who suffered any permanent injury from a flu vaccine.  The flu vaccine cannot possibly cause one to come down with flu.  The vaccine reduces one’s risk of coming down with flu by about 50% in any given year of immunization.  If everyone would follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), we would not have so many deaths from flu each year. 

I personally take flu vaccine every year because I know that if we have an epidemic, the persons in our community who might die are the children under two years of age, the elderly, and any patients with any chronic medical problem (asthma, diabetes, heart failure, etc.).  When I take the flu vaccine, I am doing the smart and caring thing to protect my fellow citizens who are at-risk to die in a flu epidemic.  If enough of us are immunized, we are much less likely to have an epidemic, and the at-risk people among us are much less likely to die from influenza.

If our community could come together and understand the importance of giving flu vaccine to ALL eligible people, we could do our part in the constant struggle to avoid preventable deaths caused by influenza virus. 

 

Dave Tayloe, Jr., MD, FAAP

Goldsboro Pediatrics, PA

April 17, 2018

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