Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fluarix Vaccine

As mentioned in my prior post, for egg allergy reasons, Georgia can't get the H1N1 vaccine right now. Nor is she eligible for the regular seasonal flu vaccine.

But! (--and this is the good part--) We were able to get her an alternative type of seasonal flu vaccine, administered at the allergist's office. It's called Fluarix, and I'm no doctor, but it is my understanding that in the U.S. it has been FDA approved for adults, but in the case of young children it requires a doctor's prescription. Also, I think it has been approved for both adults and children in Europe for some time now. The allergist's office sent us a thorough letter explaining this drug, and I'm kicking myself because I can't find it now. I believe the drug still contains egg proteins (like most flu vaccines), but perhaps it contains less egg, which is why our allergist is okay with giving it to patients like Georgia? (Again, kicking myself for not being better able to explain this right now, but I swear it all made perfect sense in the letter. If I ever find it I will update this post with more information.)

Anyway, if your child has tested positive for an egg allergy but has never had an anaphylactic reaction to eggs, it might be something to ask your allergist about.

Now, as for the actual shots? I was under prepared. I knew they wanted to give Georgia a partial dose and then have us wait to make sure she had no reaction before giving her the remainder of the dose. I thought we were talking about a 5 minute wait or something. Turns out there was a wait at the allergist's office before our appointment even started, then there was the first shot in her right thigh, followed by a half hour wait, then the second shot in her left thigh, followed by another half hour wait, and then we were dismissed. Whew! Had I known, I would've packed a couple more books to entertain my two year old. Oops.

It all went as well as can be expected, although I did feel bad for Georgia heading back in for the second shot. I mean, the first one was like the kid didn't know exactly what was coming, but c'mon -- she's no idiot. By the time we were walking back in for the second shot, she knew what to expect and wasn't happy about it. There weren't too many tears, though.

Another thing I didn't know about until after we got there: We had to return 4 weeks later for yet another dosage -- the booster that's apparently required for any children getting their first seasonal flu vaccination. She was more scared walking in for the booster, because she knew a "pinch" was coming (that's what she calls shots these days). But it was nothing that an Ernie and a Cookie Monster sticker couldn't fix.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thoughts on H1N1 and French Toast

Unless you're living in a cave, you know that flu scare is in full swing this year. There's the seasonal flu, and then the dreaded H1N1, a.k.a. swine flu, and if you were pregnant this year (like I was), or have a baby under six months old at home (like we do now), then you're officially high risk and should probably get yourself and your whole fam-damily vaccinated a.s.a.p.

How do I sum up my conundrum succinctly?
-Georgia's allergic to eggs, so she can't get the regular seasonal or swine flu vaccines;
-But she's testing so low on the RAST scale that she's scheduled for a food challenge for eggs in January;
-In the meantime, we've got an infant at home that we should be going the extra mile to protect from swine flu.
-Basically, this leaves me wondering, what is the greater risk? Georgia having an allergic reaction to eggs, or June getting the swine flu?

You see what I'm saying? I mean, we're following doctors' orders and all, so we are NOT feeding Georgia eggs on our own - we are waiting for the medically supervised food challenge - and we are not getting her swine flu vaccinated until she passes the food challenge. However, I'm just saying that we sometimes wonder whether this protocol makes 100% sense, given the possible dire consequence of June getting the swine flu, and given the fact that the allergists must believe that Georgia's probably not allergic to eggs at this point, otherwise they wouldn't have recommended that she do the food challenge.

In semi-related news, they called from the allergist's office to say that we are supposed to bring our own food to the food challenge, and specifically that we are supposed to make FRENCH TOAST to bring. Something about that just cracked me up. "Hi, I'm just calling to remind you of your daughter's appointment and to make sure that you know how to cook french toast. Will that be a problem?"

Then, a few days later, we show up at my sister's house for Christmas Eve brunch, and what is she serving but french toast! Suddenly it just seemed so odd to be heading off to a doctor's appointment in January to feed Georgia french toast, when I could've just given her some right then and there on the spot.

Again, we did not do that. We are following the doctor's instructions. I do not recommend that anyone else out there perform food challenges at home with respect to allergens that they've been told to avoid. All I'm saying is.......well, you can appreciate the weirdness of this stuff, right? The oddity of going through such formalities (like a 4 hour doctor's appointment) to eat french toast, when it's right there available on your table.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Morning Reaction

Just a brief note to record the fact that Georgia had some kind of contact irritation or allergic reaction on Christmas morning. Not sure what it was from, but she broke out in a red rash with hives all over her face, mostly on one side, and had to have some Benadryl.

She had eaten Dum Dums and Tootsie Rolls from her stocking, both of which I think were safe.
Not sure if she got kisses from someone who had been eating something unsafe or what exactly happened? This one will remain a mystery.

Since I'm on the topic of holidays, I just want to add that in my opinion there are too many allergen-laden foods in our house right now. I know that some "allergy moms" are super strict with their families when it comes to holidays and food. We, however, are not a "strict prohibition" or "zero tolerance" household, which is to say that we generally allow in foods that Georgia is allergic to and just police them. That said, we try to remain nut free and sesame free as much as possible. We do not buy these things and bring them into our home. This helps to avoid pantry mix ups, problem crumbs, cross contamination, and that kind of thing. (We are not as strict with eggs - we still keep eggs in the house and some processed foods made with eggs.) With family in town, and neighbors and friends having dropped off a few food gifts, I suddenly feel like we've got about 10-12 off limits foods floating around. Not a huge big deal, but I will be more comfortable when we're back to our usual ways. I tend to view these ingredients as threats to my child's health and safety; I think that others just view them as "things she can't have." Anyway, Joe may have to take a few of these items to the office with him tomorrow.