Stuffy noses, sore throats and upset tummies are never any fun. But, the flu... it’s in a class all its own. Not only is it miserable, the flu can be extremely dangerous, especially for people who have compromised immune systems such as infants, children, the elderly or anyone who is prone to disease. Each year, about 20,000 children under age 5 are hospitalized because of flu complications (CDC).
The single best protection is the flu vaccination shot. There is a nasal spray approved for the US market, but the CDC recommends that the nasal spray not be used this season because of concerns about effectiveness.
Handwashing is a must during flu season! Teach kids to use soap and water frequently throughout the day, and also to cough or sneeze into a tissue or the inside of their elbow.
Since the flu is spread every easily, keep your child home if they are experiencing symptoms. Best not to spread it to other kids in the classroom.
Who should get the shot?
The CDC says everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every single year. It’s true that some people are unable to be vaccinated because of other health issues, and those people rely on the larger population being vaccinated in order to protect them, too.
For kids between 6 months and 8 years old getting vaccinated for the first time, they should get two doses, 28 days apart. Anyone who has already been vaccinated in prior years only needs one dose this season.
Symptoms of flu
Flu can come on fast and is more intense than a cold. Kids tend to feel worse during the first few days they are sick. Talk to your doctor as soon as you suspect flu, especially if your child is under age 5 or has other ongoing health conditions (like asthma, diabetes, or heart issues).
Common symptoms in children include:
- A high-grade fever up to 104 degrees F.
- Chills and shakes with the fever.
- Extreme tiredness.
- Headache and body aches.
- Dry, hacking cough.
- Sore throat.
- Vomiting and belly pain.
When Should I Take My Child to the ER?
- Wheezing, or ribs are pulling with each breath.
- Not alert when awake, listless, , “out of it.”
- Not drinking fluids well or showing signs of dehydration (absence of tears, peeing less/ dry diapers, low energy, crying less, cranky)
- Your child looks or acts very sick.
- Skin turns bluish or gray (Call 911).
- Seizure (Call 911).
- You think your child needs to be seen urgently.