Health officials warned, and recent news stories are confirming that this is turning out to be a very bad flu season, but the good news is it’s not too late to get a flu shot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this year is particularly challenging because the vaccine developed for this flu season is ineffective against the most commonly occurring strain, known as H3N2.
While a flu shot may not prevent the flu, it can minimize symptoms. A flu shot is especially important for very young children and the elderly, and the CDC recommends all children over the age of 6 months get the flu shot.
Keep in mind it can take a week or two for the flu shot to be effective, so it’s best to get it as early as possible in the season. Flu season typically runs October to May, with most cases occurring in late December to early March.
If your child does develop flu symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately so that he/she can determine if your child should take antiviral medicine that can ease flu symptoms. Health officials say antiviral medication is effective when given within 48 hours of onset of the flu.
While the cold and flu are both respiratory illnesses, they are caused by different viruses and result in different symptoms. How can you tell if it’s a cold or the flu? Montgomery County Public Health recently shared the following information in a letter to parents:
|SIGNS & SYMPTOMS||FLU||COLD|
|Fever||usual; lasts 3-4 days||rare|
|Aches||usual; often severe||slight|
|Chest discomfort, cough||common; can be severe||mild to moderate; hacking cough|
Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people infected with influenza. People may also become ill by touching objects with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. A person with flu is most contagious one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick.
Teach children the follow tips from CDC to reduce the spread of the flu:
- Stay home when you are ill and avoid contact with other people as much as possible.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or if a tissue is not available cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hand. Dispose of tissues in the trash after use.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough, sneeze or use a tissue. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- The government has set up a website dedicated to flu information
- CDC offers the following information for schools and childcare providers.
- CDC also has a page with information specifically for parents with young children
- Check out Parent Today’s Flu Facts flier, a helpful resource to print and post on the refrigerator.
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