Tag Archives: Dr. Pete

Kids and the Flu: Symptoms, When to Seek Care

Posted on: January 29, 2015

Flu Season’s in High Gear: How to Protect and Care for Your Kids

By Dr. Pete Richel

We are now in the middle of Influenza season (“the Flu”), which is typically October ID-100228285_Boy And Vaccine Syringe by Sura Nualpradidthrough March. Locally we did not see much of this in October and November, but it commenced last month and is going strong.

Most of the positive cultures are revealing Influenza type A, and even though the Influenza vaccine was not a great match this year, we still encourage all to receive it, since it may be protective against some strains, and we find no significant down side.

All children 6 months and older should be vaccinated against the flu.
-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It’s not too late to receive this at your doctor’s office. The vaccine is approved for those 6 months of age and older. When someone gets “the Flu” at any age, the classic symptoms are:

  • temperature instability (fever) as the body’s immune system fights for us,
  • generalized achiness,
  • and a rather hacking cough.

“…frequent hand washing for patients and their caretakers
will help to prevent contagion.”

When any of these symptoms occur, bring your child to see your pediatrician. We can evaluate them with a physical exam, of course, and we can do a rapid Flu test and make the diagnosis in minutes. If the test is positive, then we can prescribe Tamiflu, a medication which may lessen the severity of symptoms, and may shorten the usual week long course of the illness.

In addition, it is always prudent to keep up with plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and the need for hospitalization. And we all know that good frequent hand washing for patients and their caretakers will help to prevent contagion. This is something that you don’t want to share!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “some children are at especially high risk.” Children at greatest risk of serious flu-related complications include the following:
1. Children younger than 6 months old -These children are too young to be vaccinated. The best way to protect them is to make sure people around them are vaccinated
2. Children aged 6 months up to their 5th birthday.
3. American Indian and Alaskan Native children.
4. Children with chronic health problems, such as: Asthma, neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, Chronic lung disease, Heart disease, Diabetes or a weakended immune system.

Editor’s Note:
Peter Richel, MD, FAAP is Chief of Pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital. He is a member of Westchester Health Associates and has practiced on Smith Avenue in Mt. Kisco since 1990. Dr. Pete has authored “Happy and Healthy,” a book on wellness in the first year of life, and produced a CD of children’s songs called “Welcome to Dr. Pete’s Office.” Both of these are intended to educate and entertain children and their families.

Dr. Pete, as he’s fondly known, has received numerous recognitions including: Castle Connolly Top Doctor, Top Pediatrician by the Consumer’s Research Council of America and honored with Patients’ Choice Awards and Compassionate Doctor Awards.

Photo Credit: Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Northern Westchester Hospital Chief of Pediatrics Discusses New Vaccination Requirements in New York

Posted on: July 22, 2014

Back-to-School Preparations May Need to Include Vaccinations
By Dr. Pete Richel

Your child may need a new vaccination before classes start this fall. For the first time in more than a decade, New York State has updated its school immunization requirements, and now children must be vaccinated twice against varicella—chicken pox.

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Prior to July of this year, parents could opt out of the second chicken pox vaccine. Why the shift? After all, many adults may remember chicken pox parties from their youth: Mothers would take children to visit a sick kid so that their children would be exposed, get ill, and gain immunity. Although chicken pox can be relatively mild, it can also cause permanent scarring and in some cases turn deadly. As recently as 10 years ago—before use of the vaccine was widespread—the US had as many as 100 deaths a year from chicken pox. From a public health perspective and from mine as a doctor, one death is too many. If we can eliminate this risk, we should seize that opportunity.

There have been some other minor changes to the immunization requirements, such as stipulating a schedule of three to five polio vaccinations before starting school. This has to do with timing. If your child has received the required three polio vaccines in infancy, they must still receive one at the time of school entrance. Three are required, and four are recommended for complete immunization. In either case, one must be received between the ages of 4 and 6. The new requirements—which will be phased in over the next seven years—apply to students starting daycare, Head Start, nursery, pre-kindergarten, and grades kindergarten through 12. If you’ve already taken your children for their wellness visit and vaccinations—or you’re not sure if your child is vaccinated against chicken pox—contact your pediatrician.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Peter Richel, MD, FAAP is Chief of Pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital.

Dr. Pete on Decline in Circumcision Rate

Posted on: August 28, 2013

Circumcision Rate Decreases as Awareness of the Benefits Declines

By Dr. Pete

Dr. Pete, Northern Westchester HospitalThe annual rate of newborn circumcision declined some 10% nationally during the time period 1979-2010, according to data just released by the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS).  Regional rates varied, but the national trend showed a decline. This is interesting, and somewhat statistically significant. Unless parents choose to circumcise for religious reasons, newborn circumcision is an elective procedure. It is not routinely performed in many countries today. Continue reading