October 2008 Archives

Families Fighting Flu

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Families Fighting Flu have released a 6-minute documentary, Why Flu Matters: Personal Stories of Families Who Lost Children to the Flu. It's directed by Emmy award-winning Mustapha Khan, creator of "House on Fire," and Tommy Walker, producer and co-director of "God Grew Tired of Us: The Story of Lost Boys of Sudan." 

Fair warning: It's a heart breaker. But it's part of an important effort to educate parents on the dangers of influenza. In the US, the flu sends as many as one in five preschoolers to the doctor, emergency room, or other urgent care center each year. Of these some 20,000 end up hospitalized due to flu-related complications. And tragically, around 100 children die from this serious disease in the US each year.

Co-infection with methicillin-resistant Staph. aureus (MRSA) poses a particular danger, and the prevalence of this aggressive bug has been dramatically growing in our communities over the last decade. (See Flu and USA300: The Perfect Storm.)

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends flu vaccination for all children ages 6 months through 18 years. And thankfully, most health insurers are covering the full cost.