The Best Thing You Can Do to Protect Your Child
From the Flu
Every year we know it’s coming, but we’re never quite prepared for it. When we see the autumn spice of fall all around us, there’s also something not-so-nice lurking around the corner: flu season. Our experts urge you to take the flu seriously and do the single most important thing to protect your family this year: don’t delay in getting your children their flu vaccine.
Parents of children with asthma and diabetes should take even greater care, as kids affected by chronic conditions can be extremely vulnerable with increased risks for serious secondary complications and even hospitalizations.
Last Year’s Flu Season
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2017-2018 influenza season was a high severity season. This means that it brought high levels of outpatient clinic and emergency department visits, led to a high rate of influenza-related hospitalizations, and was marked by an extended period of increased and geographically widespread flu activity.
The 2018-2019 Flu Season
The flu season is upon us. Flu activity often begins to increase in October and peak between December and February. Some years, however, the season can extend into the early summer months.
Flu Shot Timing
Experts recommend getting the vaccine as early in the fall as possible – ideally before the flu begins spreading in your community. It takes around two weeks for the vaccine to become effective in the body, so an early start means better protection.
The CDC recommends vaccinating before the end of October, but don’t let that stop you from getting it later in the season if you are unable to do so earlier. A flu shot for your kids in November or December is still better than no flu shot at all.
Risks of Not Vaccinating
Aside from the misery of having the flu (plus the extreme likelihood of spreading it to other kids), young children run a very high risk of complications. These can range from dehydration to sinus infections to pneumonia and even death.
The flu shot is generally safe. Your child will not catch influenza from the shot, and any potential side effects are usually minor – much milder than a case of the flu.
Symptoms in Children
Flu symptoms can be different for kids. They often experience nausea, vomiting or stomach pain along with the typical flu funk that adults are used to. Symptoms to look for in your children include:
- High-grade fever with chills
- Extreme fatigue
- Body aches
- Dry cough
- Belly pain, nausea or vomiting
One clue that your child has caught the flu versus a common cold is how quickly the illness comes on. Sudden, severe onset of symptoms may indicate flu.
Boosting Flu Prevention
The most important thing to do in addition to the flu vaccine is to make sure your child washes his or her hands frequently, especially before eating and after sneezing, coughing and blowing his or her nose. Teaching your child to cover his or her mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing will also help prevent the spread of the virus to others.
Flu vaccines are here, and now’s a great time to make an appointment to help protect your child. Visit AdventHealth.com to make an appointment with a pediatrician for your child’s flu shot.