It’a all over the newspapers and the TV today: the fear that swine flu will overwhelm emergency rooms and cause rationing of services like intensive care beds and respirators. More ominous, there is already a shortage of children’s Tamiflu, an anti-viral drug that is often prescribed to treat the H1N1 virus. Pharmacists are compounding adult Tamiflu with cherry syrup to make a children’s medicine on-the-fly.
I had heard this first at SLHI’s The R Word Event, but now it appears to be a fact of life — precipitated by a flu that had a 17% death rate in Mexico last spring, mostly among young children and adolescents.
If you are a parent, I’d suggest that you read all the information about the new vaccine, and err on the side of getting your child vaccinated. I know many parents are concerned about the effect of vaccines on the rise of autism, but that’s unproven, and the death rate of young kids from swine flu is easily documented.
If you have a child with swine flu, it’s probably a good idea to wash your hands and the child’s regularly, teach older children to cough or sneeze into their sleeves, and use Motrin or Tylenol in pediatric doses. This is information from the CDC, which has a great deal of information for both parents and clinicians on the H1N1 virus.
Here are signs to watch for that might tell you your child is going to have a severe case of the flu:
Dehydration (no tears, or lots of vomiting)
Also, sickness for more than a week might indicate the need for a doctor’s care. I suspect it’s not going to be easy to see a doctor in any case, as primary care docs and pediatricians’ offices are routinely jammed and both vaccinating people and seeing more sick people are likely to create a feeling of being “rationed” in this way as well.