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Health Bulletin Fall 2009

Two Flu Vaccines This Year

Vaccines ("shots") are the best way to prevent influenza (“the flu”). Some symptoms of the flu can include sore throat, coughing and fever. Other symptoms can include chills, headaches and body pain. If you get the flu vaccine, it can help keep you and others from getting sick. It is important to get a vaccine before you get sick. This year, there will be two types of flu vaccine.

Seasonal Flu Vaccine

Every fall and winter, you can get the seasonal flu vaccine. This can help keep you from getting the flu that is expected to cause illness this year.

These people should get a seasonal flu vaccine:

  • Children from 6 months to 18 years old
  • Pregnant women
  • People 50 years of age or older
  • People with certain chronic medical conditions (check with your doctor)
  • People who live in a nursing home or other facility
  • People who live or work with any of the above groups (for example, healthcare workers)
  • People who live with a baby up to 6 months old
  • Anyone else who wants to avoid getting sick from the seasonal flu.

Novel H1N1 Flu Vaccine

This year, there will also be a novel H1N1 flu vaccine. Novel H1N1, or "swine" flu, is a new type of human virus. Most people aren't protected from it. H1N1 flu symptoms are the same as those of seasonal flu. Getting a novel H1N1 flu vaccine can help keep you from getting sick from novel H1N1 flu.

Some groups of people can get sicker from novel H1N1 flu. When the novel H1N1 vaccine is ready this year, it will be offered to these groups first. They might not be the same ones who should get the seasonal flu vaccine. You can find out more online at You can also call the CDC Flu Hotline at 800-232-4636. Their TTY line for the deaf is 800-232-6348.

Childhood Immunizations

In Philadelphia, children have to be immunized before they can go to school. Make sure your kids have what they need this year. The immunizations they need will depend on what school grade they are going into. Immunizations are also called vaccines, or “shots.”

Keep a record of vaccines for everyone in your home. Make sure your children got all the vaccines for their age. If so, then they already have what they need for school.

This year, there are new requirements for children going into the 6th grade. These students will need:

  • "Tdap" vaccine, after their 10th birthday. This vaccine protects them against diphtheria. It also protects against tetanus (lockjaw) and pertussis (whooping cough).
  • Two doses of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.
  • One dose of meningococcal vaccine.

These new vaccine requirements are added to the ones that children already needed to start school.

Eye Health

Many children have never had their eyes checked. This can be a problem because reading and writing are a big part of the school day. The earlier an eye problem is found and treated, the more likely the treatment will worsk.

Vision checks at school are helpful, but should not take the place of a checkup with an eye doctor if there are any problems. Make an eye doctor appointment if your child:

  • Squints
  • Sits too close to the TV
  • Loses his or her place while reading
  • Gets headaches
  • Fails a vision check at school

Smart Snacking

Children and teens need snacks. Children have smaller stomachs than adults, so they need to eat smaller meals more often. Teens need more nutrients for their growing bodies.

Some healthy snack ideas for kids include:

  • Cereal and milk
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Yogurt and graham crackers
  • Apple slices or carrot sticks dipped in peanut butter
  • Raw vegetables and low
  • fat dip
  • A turkey and cheese sandwich

Healthy snacks can help give kids the energy they need for school and play.