More School Advice for Organ Transplant Recipients, Plus Another Benefit of the Influenza Vaccine

Link to PDF (from Pediatric Infectious Disease Society:

FAQs Regarding Return to School for Children after Solid Organ Transplant in the United States During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Some excerpts:

Are pediatric SOT recipients at higher risk for getting COVID-19 compared with other children?
Children of any age can get COVID-19, but they seem to have milder disease than adults. Pediatric SOT recipients do not seem to get COVID-19 more often than other children.

If infected with COVID-19, are pediatric SOT recipients at higher risk for developing severe disease or complications?

Based on experience with other viruses, and from reports of COVID-19 in adult SOT patients, there are a few things that may increase the risk of severe COVID-19. These include:
1) Having undergone transplantation in the last 3-6 months
2) Receiving high doses of immunosuppression (such as for treatment of rejection)
3) Having other medical problems such as diabetes, obesity, or certain lung conditions (refer to CDC website under Helpful Resources for more details)
It is not known if the above factors also put children with SOT at risk. In fact, of all the reports among pediatric SOT recipients with COVID-19 published so far, the majority have had mild symptoms and recovered.

Related blog posts:

More on the Flu -5 Reasons for the Flu Shot

Last year’s deadly flu was likely due in part due to a low rate of vaccination.

From NPR: 5 Reasons Why You Need the Flu Shot

Last year “more than 80,000 people died from flu-related illnesses in the U.S. — the highest death toll in more than 40 years.” So 5 reasons to get your shot:

1. You are vulnerable.

People 65 and older are at higher risk of flu-related complications, but the flu can knock young, healthy people off their feet, too. It does every year.

2. Getting a flu shot is your civic duty.

“Nobody wants to be the dreaded spreader,” says Schaffner. But everybody gets the flu from somebody else.

3. You can still get the flu, but you won’t be as sick.

After last winter’s severe season, some people are skeptical. They say: “I got the flu shot, but I still caught the flu.”

4. Pregnant women who get the flu shot protect their babies from flu.

Women who are pregnant should be vaccinated to protect themselves. The vaccine also offers protection after babies are born

5. You cannot get flu from the flu vaccine.

It’s still a common misperception: the idea that you can get the flu from the flu shot.

Related blog posts:




IBD ‘Pearls’

clinical pearl is “a short, straightforward piece of clinical advice.” Here are a few:

2015 DDW abstract –#536 DR Hoekman et al “Non-trough IFX concentrations reliably predict trough levels and accelerate dose-adjustment in Crohn’s disease.”  This abstract examined data from 20 CD patients.  The authors noted that infliximab concentrations of 15 mcg/mL or higher at week 4 and 7.5 mcg/mL or higher at week 6 appeared to predict trough concentrations of 3 mcg/mL or higher at week 8.

U Kopylov et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2015; 21: 1847-53.  This nested case control study identified 19,582 eligible patients.  Key findings:

  • Treatment with thiopurines for more than 5 years did not increase the risk of lymphoma, melanoma or colorectal cancer.
  • There was an association between thiopurine use and nonmelanoma skin cancer (OR 1.78).
  • No association was found between the risk of the evaluated malignancies and anti-TNFα medications

K Huth et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2015; 21: 1761-68. This prospective cohort study completed over 2 successive influenza seasons showed that offering education and access to vaccination improved rates of vaccination from 47% (2011-12) to 75% (2013-14).  The education module is available:

KH Katsanos et al. “Review article: non-malignant oral manifestations in inflammatory bowel disease” Aliment Pharmacol There 2015; 42: 40-60. (Thanks to Ben Gold for this reference). This review article provides extensive information about oral lesions in IBD, differential diagnosis, numerous pictures, and management recommendations.  Some oral lesions are directly related to IBD, others can be induced by vitamin deficiencies or by medications.

One of my pet peeves -I avoid using straws

One of my pet peeves -I avoid using straws.  I heard this statistic several years ago and also see too many littered straws.

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

AAP -Behind the Scenes (Part 2)

Besides the focus on legislation and access to care, the AAP meeting provided an infectious disease update from Dr. Harry Keyserling, membership update by Dr. Roma Klicius, the Pediatric Foundation Report by Dr. Bob Wiskind, an update on oral health care by Dr. Chevron Brooks, a brief update on AAP Friends of Children by Dr. Jay Berkelhammer, and discussion about transitional care.

With regard to the infectious diseases update, Dr. Keyserling noted that despite the flu vaccine’s lower “match” this year and its reduced effectiveness, it is still quite important to receive the flu vaccine.

  • Each year, about 1/3rd ot the population gets the flu.
  • About 1 in 10,000 people die due to the flu.
  • In 2012-13, there were 171 pediatric deaths across the country due to influenza.  90% of these deaths occurred in children who were not immunized; in other words, for a child with the flu, the risk of death is more than 10 times higher in those who do not receive the immunization.

Here are a couple of slides (used with permission) regarding the flu:

Risk of Death from the Flu

Risk of Death from the Flu

Flu Data thru Jan 2015

Flu Data thru Jan 2015

Flu Vaccine Coverage

Flu Vaccine Coverage

Bottomline: The AAP is working on preventing deaths from all vaccine-preventable deaths, including the flu.

Related blog posts:

Since my job at the AAP is to work on nutrition-related issues, I would welcome suggestions for areas of concern.  As there are separate areas devoted to obesity and breastfeeding, my goal is to work on other aspects of nutrition in children.  Some ideas that have come up already include an update on gluten-related disorders and nutritional supplements.  Any other advice?

Upcoming AAP Schedule

Upcoming AAP Schedule

“Because It Doesn’t Just Happen to Other People”

While doctors and scientists extol the virtues of vaccination to prevent disease, the emotional arguments regarding vaccines are sometimes lost due to misleading anecdotal stories.  The stories of missed opportunities and suffering due to the lack of vaccination are underreported.

Here’s an excerpt from one that wasn’t:  Link from Eric Benchimol: 

He, our oldest, 5 1/2, who the day before had been jumping merrily on the trampoline at circus school. Monday morning he woke up, out of breath, complaining of a tummy ache…..He came downstairs to watch TV, sank into the sofa, wheezing as if he had just run a marathon…

Everything was not okay. At noon, our big boy was in the pediatric intensive-care unit of the Centre hospitalier de l’Université Laval; he was plugged in everywhere, an oxygen mask covering his whole face, making him look like an astronaut. The respirator was whirring beside him, the oxygen desperately seeking its path, but not finding it…

The doctor said it was time to intubate, “to give him a chance…”

I marvelled at the work of the nurses, the doctors, in a constant death-defying dance. They put in long days and nights, 12 hours at a stretch and more. They obsessed, they never forgot, always determined to make the right decision at the right time.

Thursday morning, they decided to wake up our big boy, to remove the breathing tube, the IVs, trading them for a simple oxygen mask. Friday morning, the mask gave way to two little prongs in his nostrils. His battered lungs still needed some help. But his heart was beating normally again….

Each time I sat down in that blue leather chair, I wondered: “Where did that pneumonia come from? How did he get hit so hard, so fast?”…

The definitive diagnosis came Wednesday night: H1N1.

“Your son wasn’t vaccinated?”

We lowered our heads. Guilty as charged…

So why am I telling you all this? Why would I annoy you with this little story which, after all, happens to countless others every day during flu season?

Because it doesn’t just happen to other people.

Also, a link from the New England Journal of Medicine: 

An excerpt: “Influenza activity has been surging in the United States, and there are reports of critical illness and death in young and middle-aged adults. The predominant virus so far this season is influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, the cause of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Despite many challenges, there is much that the public, patients, the public health community, and clinicians can do now to reduce influenza’s impact…”

“Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age or older in the United States..” It is not too late!

Related blog entries:

Injection Flu Vaccine Safe for Patients with IBD

A recent article from Pediatrics, published online May 6, 2013
(doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-3567), 
confirms that influenza vaccination (injection/inactivated vaccine) is safe in patients with inflammatory bowel disease:

“Safety and Utilization of Influenza Immunization in Children With Inflammatory Bowel Disease”  Eric I. BenchimolSteven HawkenJeffrey C. Kwong, and Kumanan Wilson


OBJECTIVE: Influenza immunization is recommended for children with IBD, however safety concerns may limit uptake. This study assessed whether immunization was associated with adverse events in IBD patients using a population-based database of children with IBD.

METHODS: All children <19 years diagnosed with IBD in Ontario, Canada between 1999–2009 were identified using health administrative data, and matched to non-IBD controls. Self-controlled case series (SCCS) analyses determined health services event rates (outpatient visits, hospitalizations and emergency visits) in any 2-week risk period to 180 days post-immunization compared to a no-risk control period. Relative incidence (RI) was calculated for overall and IBD-related events and rates were compared between IBD cases and controls using relative incidence ratios (RIR).

RESULTS: 4916 IBD patients were matched to 21,686 controls. IBD patients were more likely to have received immunization than controls (25.3% vs. 13.2%, P < .001). No increased event rates existed in IBD cases during risk periods (pooled RI 0.95, 95% CI 0.84–1.07), including hospitalizations and emergency visits. There was a slightly higher event rate in IBD cases versus controls for days 3–14 (RIR 1.60, 95% CI 1.05–2.44, P = .03). IBD-related visit rates were lower in risk periods compared to control period (pooled RI 0.81, 95% CI 0.68–0.96).

CONCLUSIONS: There was no increase in health services use in the post-vaccine risk period in IBD patients, and there was evidence for a protective effect of influenza immunization against IBD-related health services use. Influenza immunization is safe in children with IBD and should be encouraged to improve poor coverage rates.