Dr. Ben Meares

Get Your Flu Shot

December 12, 2018 – As of today, the status of flu vaccine supply here at Raleigh Children & Adolescents Medicine:

RCAM Privately-supplied flu vaccine (private insurance):

  • Infants and Children UNDER 3 YEARS OLD: in stock
  • Children and Teens 3 YEARS & OLDER: OUT OF STOCK

RCAM State-supplied flu vaccine (Medicaid & uninsured)

  • Infants and Children UNDER 3 YEARS OLD: in stock
  • Children and Teens 3 YEARS & OLDER: in stock

Alternative sites that offer flu vaccine for children

NOTE: RCAM prefers that all pediatric medical care be rendered by your child’s medical home for consistency of care and continuity of medical record. We believe in the quality of pediatric medical care that is provided at RCAM. However, we also recognize that is not always possible, and, for the purpose of getting a flu vaccine, these are sound resources.

  • Ages 6 months and older:

    1. Wake County Health Department; 919-250-3900;
      • Walk-ins only at Sunnybrook Road location in “Clinic E” on Thursdays from 8:30am-10:30am
      • For appointment, call 919-250-3947
      • More information at wakegov.com
    2. WakeMed Urgent Care; 919-789-4322
      • Walk-Ins welcome
      • 2406 Blue Ridge Road, #190, Raleigh, NC 27607
    3. Passport Health; 919-781-0053 (Raleigh); 919-781-0053 (Cary)
      • No walk-Ins; appointment only; $40
      • 3100 Duraleigh Road (same building as our Duraleigh office), Suite 210, Raleigh, NC 27612
      • 8450 Chapel Hill Road, Suite 205, Cary, NC 27513
  • Ages 18 months and older:

    1. CVS Minute Clinic
  • Ages 14 years and older:

    1. Walgreens Pharmacy
    2. Rite Aid Pharmacy

 


Dr. Todd Harris

October 20, 2018 – I interupt this Banner Change post for an IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:

Flu Vaccine: Available for All RCAM Patients

We now have adequate amounts of both state-supplied and privately-supplied flu vaccine. Flu Vaccine Clinic appointment slots are now open all RCAM patients.

Whether you have private insurance… Whether you have Medicaid insurance... Whether you are uninsured… RCAM now has flu vaccine for all RCAM patients.

Call us at 919-781-7490 and schedule your child to get their flu vaccine.

2018-2019 Flu Season: Way-Too-Early Statistics

North Carolina Weekly Influenza Surveillance Summary 10-13-2018

Sure. There is some flu out there right now – that red line picture above that depicts the 2018-2019 Flu Season shows that there isn’t much flu illness out there… yet.

The amount of flu we are seeing now is nothing like what we typically see later during the more active parts of flu season.

Take advantage of the slow part of flu season and prepare. Do your part for your family and for yourself: Go get your flu shot.

Decrease Your and Your Family’s Chance of Getting a Serious Illness

By getting your flu vaccine you know that – by the time we get to the busy part of flu season – you’ve done what you can do to limit your chance of getting the flu.

That’s what you are doing when you get your flu shot: you are reducing your chance of catching a very difficult illness.

Flu vaccine doesn’t eliminate the possibility of catching flu. It also doesn’t cause the flu. It does cut your chance of catching the flu.

I like that. Less chance to catch a serious illness. Who wouldn’t want that?

Back to the Banner Post

It’s been autumn so long that the temperature actually feels like autumn.

We welcome a new banner picture.

Welcome, two little girls who are getting along very well.

Did I Mention that 3 of Our 10 Pediatricians Have Recently Given Birth?

Lately, it seems most of the chatter around RCAM comes back to Sarah, Lily and Jen and their recent new additions.

We all have questions.

How are they doing?

How is there transition to having two young children going?

Are they getting any sleep?

The talk eventually goes inward. Remember the exhaustion of caring for a new baby – particularly when you already had an energetic and attention-starved toddler at home?

Finally someone asks, How did any of us ever decide to go through it all over again and have another child? [Next slide please…]

Presenting: Moments that Make Us Forget How Difficult Raising Young Children Can Be


Dr. Todd Harris

September 21, 2018 Patients with private insurance may now call and set up an appointment for their child to get the flu shot in one of our Flu Shot Clinics.

Private-Supplied Flu Vaccine

For patients who have private insurance, we have received our shipment of private flu vaccine and are beginning to administer those shots. (Private insurance is through a health insurance company such as BCBS, United Healthcare, Cigna, etc.)

State-Supplied Flu Vaccine

For some, flu vaccine is supplied by the State of North Carolina:

  • Insured by Medicaid
  • Uninsured
  • Native Americans or Native Alaskans
  • Insured by a medical cost sharing plan

We have not received state-supplied flu vaccine, so we cannot begin vaccinating patients in these groups yet. We have no control over this and have no way to predict when we will receive it.

Check back here over the next few weeks. We will announce and start administering our state-supplied flu vaccine as soon as it arrives.

We dislike having two different flu vaccine start dates, but felt we simply have to begin with the vaccine that we have on hand.

Flu Shot Clinic

In an effort to prepare for the upcoming flu season with the goal of vaccinating as many of our patients as quickly as possible, Flu Shot Clinic is for getting flu shots only.

If you have other health concerns, call and make a regular appointment with one of our pediatricians.

We will also continue to vaccinate patients as they are seen in our office for routine visits.

Experts: Jury Still Out On FluMist

FluMist – the nasal spray flu vaccine – will unfortunately not be available again this year at RCAM.

You may be aware of reports that FluMist has returned as an option after being unavailable for 2 years due to concerns that is had become ineffective.

Infectious disease experts and the American Academy of Pediatrics are not yet convinced that the updated FluMist will be as effective as the Flu Shot. As a result, RCAM this year will only offer the shot version of the flu vaccine.

Decrease Your Chances of Catching a Bad Illness

Influenza illness – the Flu – can be very hard on the very young, the very old, and for those with certain underlying conditions like diabetes and asthma.

It can also be a very bad illness for anyone – regardless of health – so we recommend flu vaccine for just about all of our patients.

Decrease your family’s chances of catching the flu. Call RCAM 919-781-7490 to get your child’s Flu Shot.


Dr. Todd Harris

March 12, 2018 – Above you’ll see the most recent North Carolina state flu numbers – 3 straight weeks showing a steady drop in likely cases of influenza.

That’s good news. How about more good news?

A Big Drop in Flu Cases at Raleigh Children & Adolescents Medicine Too

And at our office, we’ve seen a similar trend of fewer cases of flu.

Only seven (7) positive flu tests last week – that is only one per day which is a lot less than most weeks during the month of February.

Yeah March! That is more good news.

Sports and Summer Camp Physicals

The sudden drop in flu cases has created an unexpected and atypical wellness opportunity in March.

If your child needs a physical for summer camp or for school next year, don’t go to Urgent Care or (ugh) Minute Clinic.

Give your pediatrician a call.

Why see your regular pediatrician?

  • This is the doctor who is an expert in pediatrics who already knows your child
  • This is the doctor who has all your child’s medical records and who knows which vaccines they’ve had and which vaccines they need
  • The doctor who has seen them before with illness and will be there to see them if they get sick later

Whenever possible, keep your child’s healthcare in one place –  at your pediatric medical home – Raleigh Children & Adolescents Medicine

Give us a call 919-781-7490 and get that taken care of now.

 


Dr. Todd Harris

February 27, 2018 – At the end of last week, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services updated this years Influenza Surveillance reports.

Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

We’ve been watching this graph for a few weeks, and the most recent trend deserves more focus – how about a crop with some enlargement:

The report shows that there were fewer flu-like cases reported last week when compared to the previous week. That’s good news.

A Welcomed Downward Trend But Still Lots of Flu

Keep in mind – we are still seeing a lot of cases of flu – a significant drop in the number of cases is a good thing but it doesn’t mean flu season is over.

Is It Too Late to Get My Child a Flu Vaccine?

This question still comes up and here are a few points about flu vaccine:

  • I have to begin with this: The best time to get the flu vaccine is before flu season (duh) but not so early that it loses its effectiveness before the end of flu season. October is an ideal month for getting your flu vaccine (I always think holidays are a good way to remember so try to get your flu vaccine before Halloween).
  • We seem to be on the other side of the peak but there are still weeks to months left of this flu season – if you can find someone who still has flu vaccine – there is little downside and still some potential upside to getting a flu vaccine even though its almost March.
  • Note: RCAM still has flu vaccine for all children 6 months to under 3 years old.

How Effective is This Year’s Flu Vaccine?

  • There has been much talk of the effectiveness of this year’s flu vaccine and this is what the CDC is reporting as of February 3, 2018: “overall the seasonal flu vaccine [given for the 2017-2018 flu season] reduced the risk of getting sick and having to go to the doctor from flu by about one third.”
  • The flu vaccine experts try to shoot higher than one third, but when the choice is depending on one’s own natural immunity vs. that natural immunity plus 33% – most would take the latter.
  • So there you go: 1 in 3 people helped by the flu vaccine – not a great year but still a significant tangible benefit.

 

 


Dr. Todd Harris

February 21, 2018 – For those interested, here are some updates about influenza:

Flu Peaking? (Fingers Crossed)

Above is a graphic showing North Carolina Flu Statistics up to the week of February 10, 2018. It includes the current flu season (red line), last year (dark gray line) and two years ago (light gray line).

Interestingly, both of the previous flu seasons per this graphic peaked on the same week – the week of February 24th.

That thick, ever-growing, red line shows how this flu season has surpassed the previous two. Some recent national reports suggest that the number of new influenza cases are slowing down (leveling off). It is hard to conclude that from the above information but keep in mind that is North Carolina data only and includes numbers only through February 10th.

RCAM Flu Numbers Leveling Off? (Two Conflicting Opinions)

Our information is a bit limited – however, flu numbers from our Duraleigh office presented above show that both the number of flu tests RCAM performed and the number of tests positive for influenza have remained similar for the last two weeks.

  • Glass-half-full analysis: Flu is leveling off and soon should begin to decline. You may make plans now to come out of your house.
  • Glass-half-empty analysis: The Pediatricians at RCAM have been made aware that we have a limited number of flu test kits and so the “leveling off” is simply not testing the more obvious cases or situations where a positive test wouldn’t change what you would do (a viewpoint that justifies the actions of those who continue to “double wipe down” your shopping carts).

Either way you look at it – you probably don’t want to share a glass – half-full or half-empty – with anyone just yet.

Influenza Summary as of February 21, 2018

  1. There is still a lot of flu active nationally as well as here in our community. This pediatrician is not smart enough to know if it is slowing down but there are some signs to suggest it could be.
  2. Most people are doing very well, but stay on the lookout for signs of complications from the flu. Here is a good summary about what to look for from The New York Times.
  3. RCAM is being careful to follow the CDC recommendations for the use of Tamiflu. In short, Tamiflu is not recommended for everyone who gets the flu – only those at high risk for complications from the flu – like the very young (under 2), the elderly, or patients with underlying conditions like asthma and diabetes.
  4. Call our office with questions: 919-781-7490
  5. Get your child seen if they seem particularly sick – both those who fall into a high risk group as described here by the CDC as well as anyone – both healthy children and children considered high risk – who are showing signs that their illness could be getting severe.

Dr. Todd Harris

More RCAM Influenza Updates

Written by Dr. Todd Harris

February 2, 2018 – Some important updates about flu season this year:

There is a lot of influenza out there

I am tired of writing about flu. I am sure you are tired of reading about.

But – for visual learners – I present the graph above that shows new cases of flu over time for the past 3 flu seasons. This year’s flu season is the brightly colored red line that stops at the week ending 1/27. You can see there are more cases of flu than at the same time compared to the previous two years.

What this means to me is we likely haven’t reached this flu season’s peak yet.

What is being reported nationally and statewide also fits what we are seeing at RCAM

Here is a snapshot of the rise in positive flu tests in our Duraleigh office so far for this flu season:

With lots of flu cases we are starting to see some shortages

  1. We have already run out of privately-supplied flu vaccine for patients 3 years old and up (our current supply is described here). We are hearing reports of pharmacies running low with flu vaccine as well. Here are other places you can call to check on their availability of flu vaccine. At this late juncture in the flu season, it is pretty unlikely that more flu vaccine will become available. (NOTE: put it in your calendar for next year – flu vaccine is generally plentiful every October).
  2. We anticipate running out of tests for influenza. At this point in time, we are testing for flu only when necessary (a patient doesn’t have to be tested to be diagnosed with flu; at the end of the day, the doctor seeing you makes a clinical judgement).
  3. We anticipate shortages of Tamiflu – one antiviral medicine that can in some cases lighten the symptoms and / or duration of flu illness

A few things about Tamiflu

Tamiflu is essentially the only medicine (Tamiflu) that might help in the fight against flu (other than the flu vaccine – which again is plentiful in the fall). Compare that number to the choices we have for something like ear infections where we can choose from 6-8 different antibiotics.

Having just one option for flu sets up the potential for problems with supply as well as increases the likelihood of resistance.

Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has come out with recommendations for physicians regarding the use of Tamiflu.

In short, they recommend using Tamiflu only with patients who are at high risk for complications from the flu. High risk tends to mean the very young (under 2 years old), the very old and those with underlying conditions (like asthma or diabetes).

As pediatricians, we feel it is our responsibility to follow the CDC recommendations as closely as possible.


Dr. Todd Harris

January 26, 2018 – Some Influenza updates:

Flu Vaccine availability at RCAM:

State-supplied flu vaccine (Medicaid insurance):

  • 6 months old to under 3 years old – in stock and available
  • 3 years and up – in stock and available

Privately-supplied flu vaccine (Private insurance):

  • 6 months old to under 3 years old – in stock and available
  • 3 years and up – NO LONGER AVAILABLE AT RCAM

Flu Vaccine Elsewhere:

It is unlikely that we will be able to acquire any more privately-supplied flu vaccine. If you would still like to get it – we would still recommend it – and – if you can’t get it at RCAM – here are some places that may still offer flu vaccine.

Influenza at RCAM so far:

You can see – we are seeing more cases of influenza in our office – and we are expecting that number of “Positive [Flu] Tests” to continue to rise.

 


Dr. Todd Harris

December 12, 2017 – Hello, Raleigh. Welcome to cold and flu season.

Today’s RCAM Flu Update:

We are seeing lots of colds, and – fortunately – so far not a lot of flu. You can see from the table above that our suspicion of flu has risen as we are performing more flu tests but we are not getting many positives.

This matches how the Center for Disease Control (CDC) characterizes influenza in North Carolina as only “local activity“.

We know it’s coming – typically January and February are our more active flu months (this graphic from the NC Division of Public Health shows the last 2 years case of influenza peaked around February 24th).

Therefore, it is important to point out that it is not too late to get your flu shotthe best known flu prevention.

We still have plenty of flu vaccine at RCAM. If for some reason you can’t make it in to see us, here are places where you can still get your flu shot.

Today’s Holiday Card Update:

It is not too late to send us your holiday cards!

 


Dr. Todd Harris

Shot Box

November 3, 2017 – A belated update about flu vaccine availability at RCAM:

We have flu vaccine available for all patients.

Our most recent update reported that we had not received much of our state-supplied flu vaccine yet.

The package did arrive (its been about 2 weeks – I apologize for the delay in posting the news here on the website) and we have plenty of both state-supplied and private-supplied flu vaccine.

How to get the flu vaccine for your child:

  1. If you happen to be in our office for an appointment, mention to your nurse that you would like your child to get the flu vaccine (as well as any other of your children with you that day who need the flu vaccine). Typically we can squeeze that need into our regular office hours schedule (NOTE: we typically can’t give flu vaccine during a visit to our after-hours sick clinic that occurs in the evenings and on the weekends)
  2. Call 919-781-7490 and schedule your child to come to an RCAM flu vaccine clinic. Right now we have limited appointment slots available but we continue to add new slots.
  3. The flu vaccine is also available at most pharmacies as well as the health department. It is not important to us where you get the flu vaccine, but we generally recommend all of our patients get it.