Fighting the flu: Tips for keeping your kids healthy

Children are especially susceptible to the flu. With this year's more severe flu season, parents should be wary and vigilant against exposure. Photo: Cheryl from River City Virginia via Flickr

SILVER SPRING, January 11, 2013 ― With 42 states already reporting widespread infection, and seven more having heavy regional outbreaks, it looks like the flu is going to be hard to escape.  

Children are especially susceptible to the flu and parents should be wary and vigilant against exposure.

Get a flu shot

Children or all ages, and as recommended by their pediatrician, as well as parents, should get the flu shot or nasal mist. It used to be that doctors recommended that only children and the elderly receive the shots, but now the CDC says that everyone should get it:

Who should get vaccinated? (Resource: CDC.gov)

Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. It’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated. Those people include the following:

People who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu.  This includes People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

Pregnant women.

People 65 years and older.

People who live with or care for others who are high risk of developing serious complications

This includes household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

Different age groups have different shots available; it is important to advocate for yourself and your child and ask, “Is this the right shot for my child,” before it is administered. A common misconception about the flu shot is that you can “get” the flu from it. As the shot is made from dead virus, that cannot happen.

However, it does take about two weeks for the vaccine to take full effect, so if you are exposed before your body has had a chance to develop the immunity provided by the shot, you can still get sick.

It is still possible that you might get the flu even if you have a flu shot. Only a few strains of the flu are mixed into the vaccine each year. If you are exposed to a strain not included, you will not have protection from that strain, however, flu shot recipients who do get sick tend to have less severe symptoms and get over the disease more quickly.

Vaccine shortages are already cropping up. If your doctor’s office does not have it, keep searching. Check clinics, pharmacies, and urgent care centers.

Do not rely on the hospital emergency room to get your flu shot. Emergency rooms across the country are already dealing with overflow volumes of sick patients seeking treatment, and the already sick are hospitals’ top priority.

There are things you can do to keep yourself from contracting the flu, and help to keep you, and baby, from getting sick as well:

Wash your hands

Your hands come in contact with your face more times a day than you realize. Since the virus that causes the flu is spread through droplets when people sneeze, cough, or talk, make sure you are washing your hands throughout the day.


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Brighid Moret

Brighid is a freelance writer and first time mother.  She holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University.  Find her on Facebook @Brighid Moret

 

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