The 2018-19 flu and cold season is underway. The flu is more dangerous to children than the common cold. Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Here are some tips on keeping your child healthy, and how to prevent him or her from getting the flu.
-The number one way to prevent the flu is to take time to get you and your family vaccinated. The CDC recommends that this be your first and most important step to protect against the flu. Getting vaccinated significantly reduces you and your child’s risk of flu complications or even death. Getting the vaccine can not only reduce the number of flu illnesses but also cut down on the number of doctor’s visits and missed days of school. The vaccine is recommended to anyone over the age of six months, and receiving as early as October. Don’t worry if you still haven’t received your shot, there’s still plenty of time! The majority of the students who tested positive for the flu last season here at Episcopal were not ill until late February and even into March.
-Because the influenza virus is airborne, the second best way to prevent you and others from getting sick is to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Immediately throw away the tissue and wash your hands. Soap and water are best, but if not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It is important to remember to scrub your fingertips and thumbs, which are often not washed as well. Keep tissues and a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times.
-Tell your child to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth as they are the gateways to contracting an illness. Also, ask your child not to share their food or drink with friends.
-Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. If you are the one who is sick, limit your time with others to keep them from becoming infected.
-Clean and disinfect surfaces that may have been contaminated. This includes pens, pencils, calculators, iPads and cell phones.
-If your child has a fever, the CDC recommends keeping your child home for at least 24 hours after she/he is fever-free. This means without using fever-reducing medications. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations to stay home longer.
-Starting an antiviral medication that fights against the flu is very important. This medication works best when started within two days of getting any symptoms, but can still lessen symptoms if taken later, especially if at a higher risk of complications. Antivirals can lessen the symptoms of the flu and shorten the time you are sick by at least one day. It can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus having complications that may require a hospital stay, such as pneumonia. Check with your doctor promptly if you or your child is at a higher risk of complications, such as having asthma, epilepsy or diabetes.
Please call your pediatrician if you suspect your child may have the flu. The CDC website contains the best information if you have any questions about the influenza virus and antiviral medications. If we work together, we can help keep each other healthy and keep our students in the classroom.