12/19/10 — Flu cases spike among children at Goldsboro Peds

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Flu cases spike among children at Goldsboro Peds

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 19, 2010 1:50 AM

Cases of flu at Goldsboro Pediatrics have spiked over the past week, said Dr. Dave Tayloe, who attributes part of the problem to residents opting not to get the preventive vaccine.

"We're seeing a lot of flu. This is a dramatic change from, say, last week," Tayloe said on Friday. "The number of patients that come in our office and refuse the flu vaccine and they don't really have a good reason except they have gotten sick close to the time of getting it or they're not sure the vaccine is safe."

Part of the problem might be due to confusion last year over H1N1 and the availability of two separate vaccines.

That is not the case this year, he said, as a combined vaccine has been produced and is not in short supply.

Tayloe said Goldsboro Pediatrics had diagnosed 16 positive cases of flu in the past week alone, noting that during one of the night clinics, there were six positives identified between 6 and 9 p.m.

"That means kids who have come to the office sick enough that we want to know for sure if they had flu," he said. "We don't do flu tests on everyone, but when they're hurting all over and having chills, they're the ones (to check).

"Obviously, that's a big change this past week compared to last week."

In recent years, the number of flu deaths have also gone up markedly across the U.S., Tayloe said, estimating the statistic is around 35,000 to 40,000 each year.

"It's a simple thing to deal with if everybody that can get in for a vaccine would do so," he said.

While there are some who might not be eligible for the vaccine, such as those with certain health risks or babies under 6 months old, Tayloe said that is all the more reason for everyone else to take preventive measures.

It's called the "herd" mentality, he said. Giving the vaccine to as much of the herd, or population at large, as possible will only keep illnesses like influenza at bay.

"If we're going to avoid having lots of flu ... if we're going to do anything to protect the innocent, everybody who possibly can needs to take the vaccine," he said.

The number of people getting flu shots have also been down at the Health Department's flu clinic this year.

Milder temperatures in the fall and the fact that there is no shortage of the vaccine have contributed to the lack of urgency to get the flu shot, officials there have said.

James Roosen, health director, offered another take on the subject.

"There's really no telling when the flu season will occur, so that's why it's important for people to get vaccinated," he said.

Typically cases surface between November and February, he said, but there can be outbreaks any time.

"Right now we're seeing a slight increase in flu cases in North Carolina but we know that Georgia has seen a pretty significant increase," he said. "What we're advising is that people get their flu shot for this season.

"This year's flu vaccine contains all three different protective areas against three different viruses that cause flu and H1N1 is included in there."

The flu clinic at the Health Department is open Wednesday and Thursday, he added, and appointments are not needed. It will be closed, however, the week of Dec. 27.