As summer begins to draw to a close, it is that time to start thinking about our nemesis “influenza.” As a pediatrician, it is vital for parents to receive accurate information on the flu. It is also important for parents to know the best practices for protecting their children from the flu.
10 Things to Know About Influenza
1. What is the flu?
Influenza is a serious viral infection that infects the nose, throat, and lungs. It is caused by variations of the influenza virus. Although it seems like just a cold in some children, it can cause severe infections and killed 129 children during the 2018-2019 season.
2. What are the common symptoms of the flu?
Signs of the flu virus include high fevers, sore throat, runny nose, headache, and dry cough, as well as sore and achy muscles. Some children may have stomach pain and diarrhea. The symptoms of the flu generally come on quickly.
3. How long can sick children spread the infection?
Generally, kids who have the flu can infect others before they show symptoms. The virus is spread by respiratory droplets (cough and sneezing). Children generally spread the virus for a total of 5-7 days. Once exposed to the virus, most will show symptoms within 1-4 days.
4. When do I know that flu is done, and when can my child return to school/daycare?
Duration of symptoms is generally 3-7 days. Generally, once the child is fever free for 24 hours without the use of Tylenol or ibuprofen they may safely return to school/daycare.
5. What are things I can do at home to treat the illness?
Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids and manage their fever with Tylenol. If your child is older than 6 months, you may also use ibuprofen. Remember, if your child’s fever decreases by a few degrees and is less fussy, the medication worked. Antiviral medicine may be prescribed by your doctor if the infection is diagnosed within 48 hours.
6. What is the best practice for protecting your loved ones against the flu?
Everyone six months of age and older should receive their flu vaccine. Also, washing hands, avoiding those who are sick and covering your mouth when you sneeze are good ways to prevent the spread of the flu. Children too young to receive the flu vaccine rely solely on parents and loved ones getting vaccinated to protect them.
7. I heard that the flu shot will give you the flu, is this true?
No! The flu vaccine is made up of deactivated flu virus that cannot transmit infection. Common side effects from the flu shot might be redness and swelling around the injection site, muscle soreness, and pain. Some children may run a fever after receiving the injection, these symptoms are the body’s normal immune response to the inactivated virus in the vaccine. So, although you may feel sick, you don’t have the flu.
8. Does my child have any other choices besides the shot?
Yes! A nasal version of the vaccine is once again offered this flu season for healthy children over two years.
9. Can my child receive the flu shot with their other vaccines?
10. Where can my child get the flu shot?
The flu vaccine can be given at your regular healthcare providers office from six months of age and older. HyVee will administer flu vaccines without a prescription to any child six years of age or older OR six months of age to five years old with a prescription from your healthcare provider. Target/CVS – will give flu vaccines without prescription in children six years of age or older, or four and five years old with a prescription.
Find more information on influenza here.
Dr. Aaron McClure is a pediatric hospitalist at MercyOne Children’s Hospital, where he sees healthy newborns in the nursery, as well as sick children admitted to the hospital with various illnesses. Dr. McClure is a father of three teenage boys, and he and his family receive their annual flu vaccines each year.
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The post is part of a series of sponsored posts by MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center