We are having an on and off wet and cold winter this year. Many patients are contacting our office regarding viral upper respiratory infections, which may affect their asthma. The common cold is most often caused by the rhinovirus, but this time of year corona viruses are also active, as well as the echo and coxsakie virus. RSV strikes not only children but adults also, causing an asthma like condition with wheezing and coughing. We also have had a considerable number of influenza cases in Tucson; and even though many patients have had their flu shot, this year the flu shot has been gauged to be about 62% effective. Wash your hands frequently, and try to avoid large crowds. It is hard to predict how the upcoming Spring allergy season will be, but we will have appointments available with minimal wait time as we have 5 physician specialists available on our staff.
The H1N1 vaccine is now available, and although we have a limited supply, the NIH has informed us that next week 10 million doses will be shipped, and 10 million more each week until the end of January. The vaccine is safe and is recommended for persons under 24 years of age, and persons over 60 with complicating medical conditions such as asthma. In total, 41.6 million doses have been made available to the states thusfar.
In short, if you customarily receive the annual flu shot, the H1N1 is recommended. Look for public announcements regarding community locations available to receive the H1N1 vaccine, and do not worry as there will be plenty of vaccine available in the next few weeks.
Most of the 2,900 deaths attributed to H1N1 disease have been in the 18 to 64 year old age group, unlike other flu viruses which customarily affect the elderly disproportionately.
If there is a question of egg allergy, contact our office as we do vaccine testing and administration for suspected egg allergic patients. Most of the vaccines now have less than 2 mcg of egg per dose, which is considered generally safe even in egg allergic patients, but check with your doctor first.
We are getting into the Fall allergy season, with grass and weed pollens predominating. Also, soon, we will be in the fall/winter viral illness period, which often exacerbates asthma. We will be giving the flu vaccine in October, but as the H1N1 vaccine is still undergoing testing and is not yet available, we are not sure we will have that vaccine in our offices. The H1N1 or swine flu vaccine should be widely available when testing on humans is complete. We will keep you posted, please check back.