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Here's why your pediatrician won't recommend FluMist this season

Fourth-grader Jasmine Johnson got a FluMist spray at her Annapolis, Md., elementary school in 2007. This year, the nasal spray vaccine isn't recommended.

Susan Biddle/Washington Post/Getty Images

Fourth-grader Jasmine Johnson got a FluMist spray at her Annapolis, Md., elementary school in 2007. This year, the nasal spray vaccine isn't recommended.

For more than a decade, millions of children have avoided the prick of the flu shot by getting the vaccine sprayed up their noses. But this fall, most parents taking their kids in for flu vaccination will find that their pediatricians are not offering the FluMist spray. 

I've been looking into what's going on and have answers to all of your questions below.

What is FluMist and why has it been so popular?

FluMist was initially licensed in 2003. Instead of being injected into their arms, it's sprayed into their noses.

It's proved to be a popular alternative for shot-averse kids: Data from recent flu seasons suggests that the nasal spray accounted for about one-third of all flu vaccines given to children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Beyond the way it's administered, there's another difference between the nasal spray and the flu shot: The nasal spray is a live, attenuated vaccine, meaning it contains live, but weakened, flu viruses. The flu shot, meanwhile, is an inactivated vaccine.

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FAQ: What is West Nile virus?

mosquito

Photo by Sean McCann via Flickr Creative Commons

In Orange County, mosquitoes have been breeding "at an alarming rate and volume throughout the winter months," says Jared Dever, with the county's Mosquito and Vector Control District.

What is West Nile virus?

West Nile virus is almost always transmitted from mosquitoes to people. It usually causes no symptoms; some people will get headaches, body aches and other relatively mild symptoms. A very small number of those infected will develop serious complications, particularly people over 60 with other medical conditions.

In rare instances, West Nile has been spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.

How do the mosquitoes get infected?

West Nile cycles between mosquitoes and birds: Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on birds that have the virus. The mosquitoes spread it to other birds, and to humans.

How great is my risk of serious illness?

The risk of serious illness is very small. An estimated 70 to 80 percent of people who contract the virus never develop any symptoms.

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As more parents refuse vaccines, more doctors cut ties with families

vaccine vaccination immunization shot syringe

Photo by Sanofi Pasteur via Flickr Creative Commons

Between 2006 and 2013, the percentage of parents who refused to give their kids some vaccines almost doubled, according to a national survey of pediatricians.

School is back in session, and for the first time, all California kindergarteners, seventh graders and new students must be vaccinated unless they have a medical exemption. A new state law bans vaccine exemptions based on personal or religious beliefs.

We've got the latest on this law and other developments in this Impatient vaccination news roundup.

California's new vaccination law

A group of parents and non-profit organizations have filed suit in an attempt to have the law nullified. They argue the law violates the state constitution's guarantee that all California children have the right to an education.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in an attempt to block the law while their case moves forward. Last week, a judge denied their motion.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District says that on the first day of school, just four 7th grade students were sent home for not having their Tdap shot, which prevents tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

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Fearful of opioid addiction, some under-medicate

Magic Madzik via Flickr Creative Commons

As the nation struggles with an epidemic of opioid abuse, KPCC has launched an occasional series in which we share your stories of dealing with pain, and offer experts' advice on how best to manage it. Share your story and insights through the Public Insight Network.

Gena Olson broke her back, hip and shoulder in a motorcycle accident three years ago. For much of the time since then, she resisted taking opioids, relying mainly on over-the-counter drugs like Advil and Tylenol, and on yoga, mindfulness and rest.

Despite all of that, she lived in constant pain.

Here's how she describes the pain she endured, using the zero to 10 pain scale: "Most mornings I wake up at a two or a three, which means that if I'm at home and … I want cereal but I'm out of milk, … I guess I'm not going to eat cereal, [because] I'm not going to walk those three blocks" to the store.

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Patients using opioids for chronic pain: Don't stigmatize us

The National Safety Council says more Americans are dying by accident, and opioid abuse is one of the leading causes.

Toby Talbot/AP

The National Safety Council says more Americans are dying by accident, and opioid abuse is one of the leading causes.

As the nation struggles with an epidemic of opioid abuse, KPCC is launching an occasional series in which we'll share your stories of dealing with pain, and offer experts' advice on how best to manage it. Share your story and insights through the Public Insight Network.

Kelli Glazebrook of Fresno lives with chronic pain.

Glazebrook, 38, has a rare autoimmune disease called Behcet's disease. It causes blood vessel inflammation throughout her body and has led her to develop other conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and spinal degeneration.

She says she generally manages her pain through healthy eating, yoga and meditation. Glazebrook takes a high dose of ibuprofen when her pain escalates. But when her pain really flares up, she says, it's hard to think, she feels grumpy and it's hard to eat.

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