DURHAM, N.C. — This past flu season hit early and hit hard. Parents scrambled to get flu shots for their children.
"A lot of people came in who had never got a flu vaccine before," said Dr. Martha Gagliano, a Durham pediatrician.
Lines wrapped around health departments as people waited for flu shots and doctor offices were crowded with sick children.
Experts say now is the time to start thinking about flu shots.
"Flu may be a long way away, but now is when physician's offices are placing orders for vaccine," said Dr. Margaret Rennels of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
American Academy of Pediatrics
kicked off a new campaign urging parents to tell their child's doctor now if they want a flu shot this fall.
"It is anticipated there will be more produced this year and also the government has plans to stockpile some vaccine," Rennels said.
Gagliano thinks it is a good idea.
"We wouldn't want to encourage 1,000 people to call tomorrow to ask us about the flu vaccine. Sometime over the next month or two months I think that people should check and see how their practices are going to handle the flu ordering for next fall," she said.
Helen Egger was able to get flu shots for all her children last year and made it clear she wants them again.
"Definitely! I think particularly because of the rush last year we'll be wanting to get it earlier rather than later," she said.
If more parents follow her lead, the next flu season may be easier on everyone.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends vaccinations start earlier, around late September.
Current guidelines recommend children with certain health conditions get the flu vaccine, including those who have asthma or are immune compromised. All infants and toddlers ages 6 to 23 months should get the vaccine. Children who have close contact with children under age 2 should also get it.
Doctors say the vaccine is a good idea for any child who wants to avoid getting the flu.
To make doctors aware of this push, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
is publishing the information in its weekly report.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is also publishing the recommendations and has sent e-mails to members.