COVID-19 VACCINES FOR BABIES AND YOUNG CHILDREN:
Hooray! The Covid-19 vaccines for children 6 months through 5 years are finally here. We have been waiting a long time for these vaccines to be tested, reviewed, and given emergency use authorization by the CDC. The time has finally come! Since the Omicron variant, the number of children hospitalized with Covid-19 has sky rocketed, reaching a pandemic high. Covid-19 is now the fifth leading cause of death for children aged 1-4 years old.
We at Branford Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine firmly believe that all eligible children should receive the Covid-19 vaccines. While it is true that vaccines won’t offer total protection against Covid-19, they are highly likely to make any symptoms significantly less severe, prevent your child from needing hospitalization, and reduce the chance of your child passing the disease onto other household contacts. There are currently two vaccines available:
The Pfizer vaccine is a two dose series 3-8 weeks apart, followed by a third dose four weeks after the second dose.
The Moderna vaccine is a two dose series four to eight weeks apart. Only children who are significantly immunocompromised need a third dose.
Appointments may be limited at first due to supply. We hope to have the vaccine available in our office soon. Please keep checking the website. In the meantime, here are some resources where you can find the vaccine for your child.
The state of Connecticut has a vaccine finder for children 6 months to 5 years old. You can put in your zip code after clicking the box labeled “Search for a vaccine provider” and it will give you links to find sites in your area.
The Yale New Haven Health System is offering vaccine clinics for children 6 months through 5 years. They also are holding a “sensory friendly” vaccine clinic specifically for children who are especially fearful or anxious of receiving a shot or special needs children who may benefit from a “sensory friendly” environment.
SUMMER PHYSICALS AND FORMS:
If your child’s camp requires a form, it’s time to get those forms to us. Forms require 7-10 days for us to complete and there is a small fee. However, all forms are provided without charge at your child’s annual Well Child visit. Check with your camp if they will accept a copy of your “blue form.” Our receptionists will handle any urgent requests.
MAKE YOUR SUMMER WELL VISIT NOW! Appointments fill quickly in the summer. If your child is entering kindergarten, 6th grade or 10th grade, they will need a “blue form” mandated by the state. If your child is playing or considering playing a sport, especially a fall sport, a “blue form” will also be necessary.
The weather is warm and the days are long. It is time for summer fun! As we watch our children make lifelong summer memories, here are some reminders of summer safety regarding water, sun and insects.
Summer brings along with it many fun activities for the whole family to enjoy. One of them is swimming. Whether your child swims in a pool, lake, pond or ocean, there are several steps you can take to ensure your child’s safety while maximizing the summer fun. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury in children. Children ages 1-4 years old are at greatest risk of death by drowning.
*Never leave children alone in or near water, even for a moment. An adult, preferably one who knows how to swim and perform CPR, should be at arm’s length, providing “touch supervision”.
*The safest fence around a pool is one that surrounds all 4 sides of the pool and completely separates the pool from the house. If the house serves as the 4th wall, install an alarm on the exit door to the yard and pool. Make sure that all gates open out from the pool.
*Keep rescue equipment such as a Shepard’s hook (a long pole with a hook on the end) and a portable telephone by the pool. Choose rescue equipment that does not conduct electricity such as those made from fiberglass.
*Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties” or “swimmies”. They are not a substitute for approved life jackets and can give parents and children a false sense of security.
*Avoid entrapment. Suction from pool and spa drains can trap a swimmer under water. Do not use a pool if there are missing or broken drain covers. Ask the pool owner if the pool or spa drain is compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act. Ask your pool service representative to update your drains or other suction with anti-entrapment drain covers.
*Never swim alone! Even good swimmers need buddies.
*Make sure your child knows never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
*Never let your child swim in canals or any fast moving water.
*Children should wear life jackets on boats, docks, or near bodies of water. They will follow your example. Whenever you are on a boat, everyone should wear a life jacket.
*Dry Drowning or Secondary drowning: Neither is an actual medical phrase and it seems to be based on a fear that a child can unexpectedly succumb to respiratory problems some unpredictable time after swimming. This fear has been exacerbated by media reports dramatizing events without fully explaining them. The concept that “dry drowning” is based on post-obstructive pulmonary edema, has truth to it. The concept that it can sneak up on a child unexpectedly is misconstrued. The reality is that if a child suffers a submersion injury, they will have symptoms such as cough, rapid breathing, or shortness of breath. Complications may take hours to evolve but they won’t emerge unpredictably without warning and they won’t start days later as had been reported in the media.
IF A SUBMERSION INJURY IS SUSPECTED THE FAMILY SHOULD SEEK CARE IN AN EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT IMMEDIATELY.
Everyone loves warm sunny days but no one likes sunburn. Here are some tips for keeping your family safe from the harmful effects of too much sun.
*Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, an umbrella, or stroller canopy. For babies younger than 6 months, use sunscreen on small areas of the body if protective clothing and shade are not available. For babies older than 6 months, apply to all areas of exposed skin but be careful around the eyes. Choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
*When possible, dress your children in cool comfortable light weight clothing that covers the body.
*Wear a hat with an all-around 3 inch brim to shield the face, ears and back of neck.
*Limit exposure between 10am and 4pm when UV rays are strongest.
*Wear sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection.
*Use a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” on the label. That means it will screen out both UVA and UVB rays. The SPF factor should be at least 15. 15-30 is fine for most people.
*Apply enough sunscreen to cover the entire body 15 to 30 minutes before going out so it has time to absorb into the skin. Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel.
*A note about the chemical Benzene: recently an online pharmacy/laboratory has detected trace amounts of a chemical called benzene that has been linked to blood cancers such as leukemia in many sunscreens. The company has appealed to the FDA to recall these products and the FDA is investigating.
*How to soothe mild sunburn: Have your child take frequent cool baths or showers. Use a moisturizer with aloe vera, or apply hydrocortisone cream to any areas that are particularly sore. Consider giving ibuprofen. Have your child drink extra water. Do not apply any creams with "-caine" (like benzocaine) in the title as these may cause skin irritation. Protect sunburned skin as it heals by wearing tightly woven clothing that covers the area.
CALL OUR OFFICE FOR ANY SUNBURN IN A CHILD UNDER 1 YEAR OLD. FOR OLDER CHILDREN, CALL OUR OFFICE IF THERE IS BLISTERING, PAIN OR FEVER.
BUGS AND INSECT REPELLENTS:
Insect bites are a common result of summer fun. Here are some suggestions preventing the very common occurrence of insect bites.
*Dress your child in light colored, loose clothing that covers the body. Tuck pants into socks to help avoid ticks.
*Avoid the hours of dusk when there are more insects present.
*Check your child’s body all over every night for ticks. Deer ticks are very small (the size of the head of a pin), dog ticks are larger. See “What should I do if I find a tick on my child?” on our Health FAQ's located under the FOR PARENTS TAB.
*DEET is considered the best defense against biting insects. The amount of DEET varies in products so it is important to read labels. The amount is usually between 10-30%. More than 30% DEET does not offer additional protection. The duration of action is 2-5 hours depending on the concentration. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a concentration of 10% DEET for children with a maximum of 30%. DEET is not safe to use in children under 2 months old. DEET has been shown to repel ticks as well as other biting insects.
*Picaridin, citronella, eucalyptus oil, and soybean oil are often found in non-DEET insect repellents. They have a duration of action comparable to 10% DEET, lasting 2-8 hours depending on the concentration. There are currently no studies that show they repel ticks.
*Only apply insect repellent to the outside of clothing and on exposed skin.
*Avoid reapplying unless necessary.
*Spray repellent in an open area to avoid breathing it in.
*Never spray repellent directly in a child’s face. Instead spray a little on your hands and rub it on their face. Avoid the eyes and mouth.
*Do not use products that contain both DEET and sunscreen. The DEET makes the SPF less effective and can over expose your child to DEET because the sunscreen needs to be reapplied.
*Wristbands soaked in chemical repellents, garlic or vitamin B1 taken by mouth, or ultrasonic devices are not effective insect repellents.
*Wash your children’s skin with soap and water to remove any repellent when they return indoors, and wash their clothing before they wear it again.