Parents may keep kids at home if schools remain open during H1N1 outbreak

NEW YORK There’s a reason there is such a great emphasis on school-aged children with the pending “return” (it in fact never left) of the H1N1 influenza pandemic. That’s because kids are more likely to get sick from colds and flu — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children come down with a cold and/or flu between five and six times per year.

And while the average prevalence of colds and/or flu in adults is two to three times per year, parents are more likely to skew that average higher, because what mom dons an N-95 respirator and latex gloves when comforting a sick child?

What all of this means for healthcare practitioners in the retail setting — namely the pharmacist and nurse practitioner — is that parents are in dire need of some legitimate healthcare information. And the need is “dire” because of the amount of misinformation that’s out there.  When doing the research for this story, Drug Store News came across a blog from syndicated columnist/pharmacist Suzy Cohen, who states that “it is possible to get the flu from the [H1N1] vaccine because it contains ‘live, attenuated virus.’ This means that you are injecting living (but weakened) virus particles into your body. … In the absence of independently funded clinical trials that are placebo-controlled and well-designed, I cannot assure you of the vaccine's safety or efficacy.” Only MedImmune’s FluMist nasal vaccine (which incidentally is not “injected”) contains attenuated virus. And MedImmune is one of five companies with an H1N1 vaccine contract — the others use inactive virus, from which it is not possible to “catch” influenza. And MedImmune’s vaccine is specifically designed  not to infect its patient with the flu it’s supposed to be protecting against.

Recently, Drug Store News’ sister publication, Retail Clinician, talked with a number of convenient care clinic executives — the most common question around H1N1 was whether or not the seasonal flu vaccine would protect against H1N1. The answer is “no,” of course, but again that underscores the need for legitimate healthcare information from a trusted provider.

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