With the cold and flu season upon us we know you probably have plenty of questions, especially about the H1N1 (swine flu) virus. To help with some of the confusion we put together some answers to the most common questions.

Why is it so hard to get my child vaccinated for H1N1?

The CDC has ordered enough H1N1 vaccine for everyone who wants to receive one, but the vaccine takes time to produce. Until production is up to speed the vaccine will only be available in limited quantities.

So far Utah has received 300,000 doses of the vaccine, which have been distributed to the counties. Utah County has decided to distribute some of their allotted vaccines to physician clinics. About once a week Utah Valley Pediatrics gets about 100 to 200 doses per shipment.

The vaccine is being provided first to individuals who are at high risk. The high-risk group includes pregnant women, caretakers for infants, health care workers, and people and children with chronic medical conditions.

Not all of our offices have given the vaccine to their high-risk patients, so the vaccine may not yet be available to those who are healthy.

Administration of the vaccine is further complicated because several manufacturers have different age limits for their vaccines. We get the vaccine doses randomly from the county health department and do not know beforehand which ones we will receive.

What should I do if I want my child to be vaccinated for H1N1?

Because demand for the vaccine varies in each office, they will be distributing it differently. If you would like to receive the H1N1 vaccine, please call one of our offices.

You can also sign up on Twitter to receive regular updates on the availability of the H1N1 or flu vaccine along with other important information.

What are the symptoms of H1N1?

Symptoms of H1N1 are similar to the seasonal flu. They include fever of greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Occasionally these symptoms might include diarrhea and vomiting.

What should I do if I think my child has H1N1?

If your child is sick, but does not have a high-risk condition or severe symptoms, your child should stay at home and avoid contact with others until the illness has passed. If your child has diabetes, asthma, a chronic lung condition, or a compromised immune system, contact your doctor. Pregnant women should also contact their doctor.

If your child has any of the below symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:
-Trouble breathing or fast breathing
-Bluish skin
-Not drinking enough fluids
-Very sleepy or lethargic
-So irritable they don’t want to be held
-Fever with a rash
-Flu-like symptoms improve, then return with fever and a worse cough

What can I do to prevent the flu?

The best way to protect yourself and your family is by getting a flu vaccine.

You will also want to be extra careful by:
-Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
-Washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
-Avoiding close contact with sick people.
-Avoiding contact with others when you are sick so as not to spread the flu.
-Trying not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

Your child has a sore throat, cough, and high fever. Is it the flu or just a common cold? It is not always easy to tell. These questions can help you determine whether your child has the flu or a cold.

Why won’t our pediatrician prescribe antibiotics for my child’s flu?

Doctors do not prescribe antibiotics for colds or the flu because they do not work. Colds and the flu are usually caused by viruses and antibiotics only kill bacteria.

In fact, taking antibiotics when you don’t need them poses one of the world’s most significant public health risks. Overuse of antibiotics can cause antibiotic resistance; this is when antibiotics no longer work on disease-causing organisms. Diseases once easily treated by antibiotics become harder to treat, leading to longer-lasting illnesses, more doctor visits, extended hospital stays, and the need for more toxic medications. Some resistant infections can even cause death.

Taking antibiotics can also lead to potential side effects or allergic reactions. If you do not need the antibiotic, it is better to avoid any of the potential risks.

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