Bang: Children need flu vaccine

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 3, 2011

Children who have already had one type of flu are still susceptible to other types, a local pediatrician said Wednesday.

Parents who haven’t had their children vaccinated are encouraged to do so, said Dr. Bhagwan Bang.

Bang recommends the flu vaccine as the No.1 defense against all types of flu, even for those who have had the flu.

“Once you get over the illness, get vaccinated,” he said. “It covers all types. If you are unlucky, you can get type B and then get type A all in the same season.

“The best and ideal time to get vaccinated is two weeks before flu season begins,” he said.

Bang said that Alabama is seeing widespread flu activity, but in his office he is seeing primarily type-B.

“But there may be more,” he said. “There may be a lot of people who are not coming for testing.”

Bang said that many parents are unsure when to bring their children to the doctor when they are sick.

“You can take the child to the doctor anytime he or she is sick,” he said. “Flu typically presents high fever, chills, headaches, body aches, and event vomiting and diarrhea.”

Bang said that once a child is brought to the office they will administer a flu test to determine if the child has it.

“We isolate the virus by using a rapid diagnostic test in the office,” he said. “If they test positive they have the flu. If they are negative, it does not rule out the flu. They may be negative 40 to 80 percent of the time.”

Bang said that children tend to produce more positive test results than adults.

Bang said it’s not necessary to test everyone for the flu or treat everyone.

“Those who need to be treated are in the high risk categories,” he said. “For example, anyone who is over 65 years and has underlying medical conditions, and children less than 2.”

Bang said there are two new risk categories – obesity and pregnancy.

“Those are the ones that we need to know that they have the flu or not,” he said. “So we can treat them accordingly.”

One of the most common treatments of the flu is Tamiflu, which is used to treat children and adults whose symptoms have begun in the last day or two.

Still, Bang isn’t a big supporter of Tamiflu, he said.

“It only relieves the fever for about one and a half days,” he said. “It should only be given to those who are at risk. I would recommend to my fellow physicians to only use Tamiflu for those who need it. If we keep using it we are not going to have anything to treat the flu with. It’s not like using amoxicillin to treat strep.”

Those who are otherwise healthy should just watch for complications, he said.

Additionally, Bang said to stay away from too much cough medicine for risk of respiratory problems and avoid Pepto Bismol and aspirin as well.

Bang said it’s important for parents to keep their children at home when they have fever or even cough.

“You shouldn’t go to school for a day after you have quit running fever,” he said. “If you are coughing really bad, stay at home as well.”