Health officials encourage influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations

Two area pediatric clinics say their annual flu shots are on track to be administered, with vaccinations for local children at or slightly behind recent years.

Children’s Doctors Group has administered about 2,300 doses of the flu vaccine so far, compared to the 2,600 that clinicians administered at this time last year, said Dr. Tina Scott-Moldhorst, medical director of Children’s Doctors Group. It is said to be slightly less.

Meanwhile, Boys Town Pediatrics is administering influenza doses at between 90% and 95% of last year’s pace, said Andrew, director of pharmacy at Boys Town National Research Hospital and incoming chairman of the Nebraska Immunization Task Force. LaDucelle said.

One of the “one-shots” making a comeback in this year’s arms race is FluMist, he said. Nasal spray flu vaccines were temporarily discontinued several years ago as ineffective, but have since been recommended by health officials. The nasal spray could be self-administered during the 2024-2025 flu season if federal regulators approve the manufacturer’s request.

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But while many people are being shot at doctors’ offices and pharmacies, Scott Mordhorst hopes the pace will accelerate.

“We hope that more children and babies over six months of age will be able to receive this vaccine yesterday,” she said.

Federal health officials are recommending both the flu shot and the latest coronavirus vaccine for most Americans six months and older this fall. These shots are seen as a key tool to prevent a surge in respiratory illnesses that have strained hospitals in recent years.

So far, influenza activity in Nebraska is low, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Respiratory Disease Dashboard.

However, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and respiratory syncytial virus (RS virus) are showing signs of becoming an epidemic. The number of reported positive RSV tests increased slightly in the week ending October 28.

The rate of positive coronavirus tests also rose slightly. But overall concentrations of coronavirus in Nebraska’s wastewater rose sharply in the state’s preliminary report on Oct. 25. Most of the state’s 16 testing sites also showed an increase.

Scott Mordhorst and Raduchel said the clinic currently has COVID-19 booster vaccines available in sizes for younger children, but Scott Mordhorst said it will take some time before they arrive. He said it took. Last year, updated coronavirus vaccinations were available throughout October. Most pharmacies only offer injections to older children, usually 12 years of age or older, as well as adults.

“Hopefully we’ll catch up,” she said. Clinic staff are also working to re-inoculate some families who received the flu shot before the latest coronavirus vaccines were available.

LaDucelle said the Boys Town clinic doesn’t anticipate much demand for coronavirus boosters. But they see more than expected.

“It’s a testament to the people who want it,” he said. “They’re very aggressive and will go out and look for it.”

Both she and Mr. LaDuchelle stressed that COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and effective.

Scott Mordhorst said health care providers need to continue working with people who are hesitant, validating their concerns, answering questions, and providing support and education.

Meanwhile, there is good news on the RSV front. Two new vaccines will be available this fall to protect pregnant women and people over 60. This virus can cause severe illness in the very old and the very young. For infants, RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization.

However, there is a nationwide shortage of new drugs to protect babies from RSV. Recommended for all infants under 8 months born during or about to begin their first RSV season, and for some older children with health problems, but most at risk Infants may be given priority.

As a result, health officials are stressing the need for vaccinations now available to pregnant women. Scott Mordhorst encouraged pregnant women to discuss the vaccine with their doctors.

This vaccine “Abrysvo” is recommended for women who reach 32 to 36 weeks of pregnancy between September and January. The vaccine protects babies for up to six months by transferring antibodies across the placenta.

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