32963 Homepage

Want to purchase reprints of your favorite 32963 or photos?

Copies of Vero Beach 32963 can be obtained at the following locations:


Our office HQ: (located at 4855 North A1A)
1. Corey's Pharmacy
2. 7-Eleven

(South A1A)
3. Major Real Estate Offices


1. Vero Beach Book

2. Classic Car Wash
3. Divine Animal
4. Sunshine Furniture

5. Many Medical

Nemours Pediatrician ‘strongly recommends’ kids get flu vaccine

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of September 24, 2020)

So far, the health precautions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our local classrooms seem to be working pretty well. But all the masks, social distancing and hand-washing don’t seem to be preventing kids from getting sick from maladies other than coronavirus – and it’s not even flu season yet.

Dr. Karen Westberry at Nemours Children’s Primary Care of Vero Beach said she thinks Indian River County Schools are doing a great job implementing sound public health measures on campus, and she’s only seen “a handful” of young COVID-19 cases.

But that’s not reducing the traffic into her Vero Beach practice much.

“We’ve actually been quite busy with sick kids. Since they are all back in school, everyone’s getting colds and coughs, sore throats and stomach aches,” Westberry said. “Schools are very quick to send them home and get them evaluated before they let them back in.

“We always see more kids once kids are back in school because they share their germs,” Westberry said. “With the social distancing and masking, we were hopeful that we wouldn’t see quite the surge.”

Unfortunately, Westberry said, “a physician cannot tell a garden-variety cold, because colds are coronaviruses, from the coronavirus everybody’s worried about without a test.”

The fact that kids are still swapping random viruses and infections makes it challenging to ferret out kids who need to be counted, traced and put under quarantine for COVID-19 from the kids who maybe just need a day in bed with some chicken soup and fluids.

“So, any kid showing symptoms should stay home, or they will probably get sent home and, if need be, tested,” Westberry said.

Right now, Nemours is sending kids who need a quick test result and a doctor’s note to return to school to Cleveland Clinic Indian River for rapid COVID-19 tests, but Nemours soon will have its own Abbott Labs rapid PCR test machine so patients can get results right in the office. “That’s the best you can get right now, the PCR test, not the antigen test,” Westberry said.

This rapid testing will help sort out symptomatic kids so they can be monitored properly, but how kids are still managing to get each other sick despite in-school precautions is still somewhat of a mystery.

The answer may lie in what kids are doing off-campus. Are kids being careless outside of school, having sleepovers and play dates, attending group outings and parties with no masks and no social distancing? Likely so, and that could frustrate the efforts of school officials to keep kids and teachers healthy.

Westberry said it’s a tough task to isolate healthy, active kids outside of school hours, but that some parents have found what they see as a safer solution – to pair up with one or two other families who they know are being safe and socialize with only those kids after school and on the weekends.

Beyond establishing a “family pod,” there is one other simple thing every parent can do to reduce the chances of their child having to sit out school due to illness, according to Westberry: Get them vaccinated for the flu.

“We strongly recommend kids be immunized over the age of 6 months, that’s been the recommendation for some time now because children under 2 are actually just as at risk [for the flu] as the elderly,” Westberry said. “So, we will continue to strongly recommend flu vaccine, and hopefully more people will avail themselves of that this year.”

If kids have never been vaccinated for the flu, they will need to be given two doses of the vaccine, one month apart if they’re younger than 9 years old, or just one dose if they are 9 or older.

Some kids would do best with the live virus “flu mist” but others would be better off with the shot, which does not contain the live virus. That’s a decision best made with a trusted pediatrician based upon the child’s age and the medical history of both the child and close family members.

Westberry said the dosage of most flu vaccines is the same for kids and adults, but parents might not be able to get kids vaccinated everywhere that offers the flu shot to adults.

“Some of the pharmacies don’t like to give it to children because it’s more labor intensive and sometimes takes an extra set of hands,” Westberry said, adding that administering the flu vaccine to kids can be “more nuanced” than for adults.

The time to get vaccinated for the flu to make sure it’s the most effective is right now through October, Westberry said. “But if you can’t get it by October, we still encourage it,” she said.

If parents are hesitant because they are worried about adverse reactions to the vaccine, Westberry said kids might take a few days to build up their immune response after getting the vaccine, but that the benefits of the flu shot greatly outweigh any rare, minor reactions. “You can certainly have reactions to the flu vaccine, but you can’t get the flu from the flu shot,” she said.

Nemours Children’s Primary Care of Vero Beach is planning to host outdoor flu shot clinics in early October on a Saturday to vaccinate as many kids as possible without having them brought into the office for well-kid visits. The dates for the flu shot events had not been set as of press time.