Helping your child (and you!) prepare against the flu

February 21, 2019 | Posted in: Early Learners, Elementary, High School, Middle Years

It is flu season!

Influenza (also known as flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu and the common cold share many symptoms – however, they are vastly different. Signs of the cold arise gradually and are milder whereas flu symptoms come suddenly, are intense, and may be severe.

“The flu is spreading quickly throughout the state of NY,” said Canajoharie High School nurse, Alicia Downs, RN.  “Parents and students need to be vigilant with reviewing and implementing Universal Precautions in every area of the school and home.” Mrs. Downs passed along some helpful tips from the Center for Disease Control to minimize your exposure, build up your immunity and reduce your risk of infection.

Get a flu shot

The first and best way to protect against flu is to get a yearly flu shot for yourself and your child.

The flu vaccination is recommended for everyone six months and older every year. Flu shots and nasal spray flu vaccines are both options for treatment. Flu viruses are constantly changing, and so flu vaccines are updated often to protect against the flu viruses that research indicates are most likely to cause illness during the upcoming flu season.

Practice Good Health Habits

In addition to getting a flu shot, practice everyday actions to help prevent the spread of germs.

Avoid those around you who are sick and do the same if you are sick.

If you have flu-like symptoms, stay home from school or work for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. The temperature should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines. A fever is defined as 100°F (37.8°C) or higher.

Remember to cover your coughs and sneezes and regularly wash your hands. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Make sure to clean surfaces that may be contaminated with flu viruses.

Take Flu Antiviral Drugs – if your doctor prescribes them

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests taking flu antiviral drugs, only if your doctor prescribes them to you. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter. They can shorten your illness and make it milder, and they can prevent serious complications that could result in a hospital stay. Antivirals work best when started during the first two days of illness. Antivirals can be given to children and pregnant women.

Sara Wheeler is a Public Information Specialist for Capital Region BOCES. She lives in Albany, NY with her husband & two dogs. She spends her time watching YouTube videos, getting fashion advice from her five-year-old niece, and is almost ready to write that book she keeps putting off.

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