Flu Vaccines and Allergy Meds Keep Kids in Class

Influenza viruses cause the flu and infects the nose, throat, and lungs

cold kid in rain

Recent studies found students need access to both flu shots and medications to prevent asthma flare-ups while at school.

“Schools that implemented the RESCUE program (Resources for Every School Confronting Unexpected Emergencies) had great success in being able to send kids back to class,” says allergist Manoj Warrier, MD, ACAAI member and study lead author.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) reported 86 percent of students remained in class when schools had access and the training to use asthma equipment and medications.

“Getting kids back to class rather than sending them home or to the emergency department creates improved health for our students and better academic performances, a win-win,” said Dr. Warrier.

Participating schools were supplied with nebulizers, chambers, additional supplies, and access to free albuterol. When RESCUE supplies were used, school nurses logged the outcomes.

A second study found children with asthma were vaccinated for the flu at a higher rate than children without asthma.

“During the 2014-2015 season, influenza vaccination rates were significantly higher for children with asthma (54 percent) compared to children without (44 percent), but were still below goal,” said allergy fellow-in-training Deepa Patadia, MD, ACAAI member and lead author of the study.

“It’s important for kids with asthma to get an annual flu vaccine due to increased risk for complications with a serious infection like the flu. We still have room for improvement in getting kids vaccinated against the flu.”

The study also showed that for children with asthma, vaccination rates were lower for children older than 13 years of age and those who were African American. Vaccination rates were higher for children receiving Medicaid and those of Latino and Asian ethnicity.

According to ACAAI, unlike other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications for those with asthma, and every year, people die from flu-related complications.

Because both asthma and the flu are respiratory conditions, people with asthma may experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks if they get the flu.

Influenza-like symptoms can mimic those of a common cold; however, patients with the actual influenza virus will experience much more severe symptoms, such as fever, chills, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue.

One of the best weapons we have for influenza is prevention, yet fewer than one-half of those who could receive the annual immunization actually do so. According to the most recent CDC data, a little more than 47% of all eligible people aged 6 months and older received the seasonal influenza vaccine.

For the 2016-2017 season, manufacturer's projected they would provide between 171 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market. In past years the following manufacturers produced a flu vaccine, Novartis, Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, and Protein Sciences.

The upcoming season's flu vaccine will protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season.

This includes an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and one or two influenza B viruses, depending on the flu vaccine.

Individuals with symptoms suggestive of a cold or influenza provide great opportunities for pharmacists to assess whether self-care is the best option and to recommend non-pharmacologic and preventive care.