Everyone 6 months and older should have the flu vaccine
09-06-2013 (Dayton, OH) -
The infectious disease experts at Dayton Children’s Hospital along with the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advise parents of children 6 months and older to get their child a flu vaccination as soon as possible, rather than later.
According to the CDC, more than 200,000 people, on average, are hospitalized from flu complications each year in the United States. Twenty thousand of those hospitalized are children younger than 5 years old.
“One of the best preventative measures for the flu is to get your child vaccinated, and to do so early,” says Sherman Alter, MD, medical director of infectious disease at Dayton Children’s.
Even with new strains of vaccinations being released, it is highly recommended to get your child immunized with the current vaccine available so your child isn’t left at risk while waiting for another vaccine to come in.
Flu season is unpredictable and can begin as early as October. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your child to be protected. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as it becomes available in your community.
Dr. Alter also offers these five tips for preventing and treating the flu.
Flu Prevention – Stop it before it stops you
- Visit your local pharmacy or family doctor to get the flu vaccine as early as possible.
- Wash your hands well and often with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are okay as an alternative.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
- Keep sick children at home including out of school or day care until they are better—usually seven days after the illness starts is adequate.
- Eat healthy and find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
Recognizing the Flu – Common symptoms
- Rapid onset of fever
- Body aches
- Loss of appetite
- Chills and fatigue
- Runny nose and sore throat
- Vomiting and diarrhea
If your child has any of the following symptoms, they should be taken to the Emergency Department:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting (not responding to your voice or making eye contact)
- Being so irritable (cranky) that he or she does not want to be held
- Not urinating (peeing) or no tears when crying
- Symptoms improve, but soon return with worse cough and fever
Treating the Flu – Simple tips
- Offer plenty of fluids. Fever, which can be associated with the flu, can lead to dehydration.
- If your child is tired of drinking plain water, try ice pops, icy drinks mixed in a blender, and soft fruits (like melons or grapes) to maintain hydration.
- Encourage your child to rest in bed or on the couch.
- Help with a supply of magazines, books, quiet music, or a favorite movie.
- Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches and pains. Do not give aspirinunless your doctor directs you to do so. Call a doctor before giving your child cough or cold medicine.
- Dress your child in layers so you can add and remove layers during bouts of chills or fever.
- Wash your handsthoroughly and often, especially after picking up used tissues.
- Take care of yourself and the other people in your family! If you haven't done so, ask your doctor whether you (and other family members) should get a flu shot.
- Ask a close relative or faraway friend to call and help lift your child's spirits.
“Since the flu is a virus, it cannot and should not be treated with an antibiotic,” Alter reminds parents. “Viruses can really take a toll on an individual’s immune system, so letting a child’s body catch up on rest and re-hydrate is one of the best things you can do if they do get the flu!”
Is it a cold or a flu? Who should get the flu shot? How do I treat the flu? Find out the answers to these questions and more in our flu center.
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