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Dr. Alex Tatevian has maintained a monthly acupuncture column in the health section of the Federal Hill Gazette since 1999.      
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  Federall Hill Gazette; January 2004

Flu season: the viral equivalent of the "perfect storm"

   As you all know too well, we are in the midst of an unusually early and severe influenza epidemic. In one week of December 2003 there were more proven influenza A cases than all of last year!
   By mid-December 2003, there have been 8 reported deaths attributable to influenza in children in Colorado.
   This is the viral equivalent of the "perfect storm", says Mark Pasternack, M.D. from Harvard Medical School. We have widespread influenza A coupled with influenza B. On top of that, An H3N2 Fujian strain of influenza A that is circulating has drifted genetically from the vaccine strain, and the vaccine does not guarantee 100% protection. However, it gives some protection and can reduce the severity of disease.
   It is time to protect your children. American Academy of Pediatrics recommends immunization even if influenza has already passed through the community, because a second strain may circulate.
   Options for pediatric influenza immunization include Flumist, the nasal spray - live attenuated, cold-adapted vaccine. For children 5 and older, Flumist (nasal spray vaccine) may provide better protection against the H3N2 Fujian strain.
   Another option is a vaccine shot: Fluvirin (Evans) and Fluzone (Aventis). Something to keep in mind: Fluvirin is not licensed for use in children under the age of 4.
   The use of Fluvirin in children under the age of 4 represents "off-label use" of an FDA-approved product. Nevertheless, most guidelines do not distinguish between the two available subvirion vaccines in their recommendations for children. For families eager to immunize children younger than 4 years old, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has prepared priority guidelines for influenza vaccination. Ask your doctor about the best options.
   Development of protective immune responses requires 10-14 days following immunization. It should not be given to patients with active disease.
   We welcome all questions that you may have.
    You can ask your questions on-line at www.DoctorGetWell.org or email them to getwell@doctor.com or send them to:
    Alex Tatevian, DA
    ACU WELL Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine
    141 Airport Road, Warwick, RI 02889
    Phone (401) 738-9355
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