Pediatritians offer flu vaccines

Olivia Davalos administers the flu vaccine to Amy Munoz Benitez, 6, at Goldsboro Pediatrics.

On the threshold of another flu season, Goldsboro Pediatrics has begun giving flu shots.

The walk-in service is offered weekdays between 9 a.m. and noon and from 2 to 4 p.m., at all four locations of the physician group — Goldsboro, LaGrange, Mount Olive and Princeton, said Darcy Lancaster, clinical supervisor.

She said her staff works hard to anticipate the need for families in the surrounding community.

“Last year, we gave out 15,600 vaccinations at our four locations,” she said. “This year so far, we have ordered about 13,000.”

She said it would not be a surprise to have to place an additional order.

Dr. Dave Tayloe of the practice, meanwhile, said there is still reason for concern.

“Last year, there were 80,000 deaths from the flu in the U.S., the most in over 40 years,” he said.

Coupled with that is a frustration stemming from those refusing to get the vaccination.

“Just people declining the flu shot because of the nuisance — ‘Well, it gave me some bumps’ or ‘I just didn’t feel good the day after I took it,’” he said. “And I say, look, the people who died were in general over 65.

“If you’re going to be nice to those people, some of whom are bound to be your friends, you take the vaccine so that you’re not infecting those people and you’re part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

Those who opt out of getting a flu shot can still be carrying the influenza virus to at-risk people, Tayloe said.

He is especially concerned for the elderly, he said, and those with chronic diseases.

The vaccination can be given to those as young as 6 months old and is recommended for virtually every age, the pediatrician says.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released its latest policy for 2018-2019, “Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children.”

Among the highlights were that the shot form of the inactivated influenza vaccine is preferred over the nasal spray, which reportedly “showed inferior effectiveness against the A/H1N1 influenza virus strain during the 2013-14 and 2015-16 flu seasons.”

Doses of the inactivated influenza vaccine are safe for pregnant women throughout pregnancy, the report said.

Children should receive the flu vaccine each season by the end of October. For those requiring two doses of the vaccine, it is advised to get the first dose early enough so that the second dose can be administered by the end of October.

“Usually you see flu later in the winter so the peak time for us is January through March,” Tayloe said. “We did have that quirky epidemic one year when H1N1 hit in the spring.”

His office begins releasing the vaccination as soon as the supply comes in, he said.

This year may be slightly later than usual.

“The hurricane threw a monkey wrench in it this year — but most places have got it now,” he said, adding that it takes about three weeks for the immunity to become effective. “The sooner you take it and you’ll have that boost for the season.”

One question frequently asked about vaccinations is whether or not the version developed is responsive to the influenza strain being seen.

Tayloe said he believes the best effort is made to accomplish this.

“The flu vaccine is made before the season so that they can make enough to cover everybody,” he said, explaining that research is done to anticipate what type of virus is circulating around the world.

Officials then attempt to predict the strain most likely to be experienced by the public, Tayloe said.

“But needless to say, there are other strains that come in,” he said. “Every year, you take a little bit different vaccine.”

The vaccine is also available at local pharmacies, the Wayne County Health Department and primary care physician offices.

The Health Department has 500 doses of vaccine, said Josa Raynor-Vaughn, communicable disease program manager.

No appointment is necessary for the flu clinic, and vaccinations are available for those 6 months old and up.

Clinic hours are Monday through Thursday, 7 until 11 a.m. and 1 until 5 p.m., and on Fridays from 8:15 until 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.

For more details on the AAP policy, visit www.aap.org/disasters/flu.