School is Back and so is the Flu…

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How to protect your child now

by Ashley Reid, P.A.
Helgemo & Liou Pediatrics

With school in full swing, hundreds of little hands are touching the same desks, chairs, lunch tables and playground equipment. The spread of germs is inevitable. At the same time, children generally don’t wash their hands as often or as thoroughly as they should. With influenza running rampant through local schools and daycares during this time of year, protecting your child from illness can seem particularly challenging.
Most of the time, the flu virus runs its course within a few days. However, the flu can sometimes be deadly. Children with underlying medical conditions are especially at risk. For that reason, it’s important to know the symptoms and when to seek medical attention for your child. Fortunately, you can also take preventive steps before these nasty viruses invade your home.

How do I know it’s the Flu?

Flu symptoms can be more severe than the common cold and can include sore throat, high fever, lots of coughing, diarrhea and overall body aches.

When deciding whether to call their child’s pediatrician, parents should be most concerned with the “Two B’s”: Breathing and Behavior. If your child is having difficulty breathing (breathing fast or working harder) or is hard to wake, won’t smile or interact and/or is not eating or drinking, you should seek medical attention right away. Catching things before they get worse can help prevent an ER visit or hospitalization. Some children may benefit from breathing treatments. Children less than four or with chronic medical problems may be candidates for the medication for the flu (Tamiflu).

Otherwise, these viruses usually run their course within three to five days. To make the child more comfortable, parents may give him or her medications for fever (generic Motrin or Tylenol) as well as lots of fluids to prevent dehydration.

When is the best time for a flu shot?

Flu season runs from October to May, sometimes a little earlier or later. It takes about two weeks for the body to make antibodies and for the vaccine to be effective. For that reason, it’s best to have your child vaccinated in August or September.

According the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), children six months and older should be receive a flu vaccination. There are two types of vaccines. The flu shot is most appropriate for children younger than two years of age. Although there are some restrictions, the flu nasal spray can be administered to most adults and children over the age of two.

Certain children 6 months through 8 years of age receive two doses of influenza vaccine. The CDC recommends that children in this age group who are getting vaccinated for the first time, as well as some who have been vaccinated previously, will need two doses.

Although some children and adults develop a low-grade fever and redness and swelling at the injection site, people cannot get the flu from receiving a flu hot.

Prevention, prevention, prevention!

The flu vaccine, recommended for all children ages 6 months -18 years of age, is one of the best protections your child has against the influenza virus. While the vaccine does not protect your child against all flu strains, it does offer a potent defense against the most common ones.

Prevention is still incredibly important to help prevent the flu from spreading in your home and community:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
  • Keep your child home if he or she is ill.
  • Cough into your elbow.
  • Don’t knowingly expose yourself to others who are sick.

Do what you can to prevent your child’s school year from getting derailed by the flu. Call our office at 629-4464 to make an appointment for your child’s flu shot today!