GHS Cares: Preparing for Flu Season
It is October and flu season is quickly approaching! Seasonal flu viruses are present year-round but they are most common in the fall and winter months. The flu viruses spread easily from person to person and children in particular are susceptible to contracting the flu. I want to share five tips to decrease the risk that your children (and you) get the flu this year.
Flu Prevention Tips:
Get your children the flu shot. The most important precaution you can take to prevent the flu is for you and your family members to get the flu vaccine each year. While there are many different strains of the flu virus, the flu vaccine protects against those that scientists think will be the most common during that flu season. It is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older get the flu vaccine by the end of October. Children under 5 years of age, and especially under 2 years, along with those who have medical conditions such as asthma, are considered to be at higher risk of developing serious flu-related problems. Last flu season, approximately 80-85% of children who died from the flu had not gotten the flu vaccine.
Avoid contact with sick people, and limit contact with others while sick. If your child is experiencing any flu-like symptoms, keep them home from all activities for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone, with the exception of seeking medical treatment.
Encourage your children to cover their mouth and avoid touching their face. Have tissues readily accessible to cover their nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Encourage them to cough or sneeze into the inside of their elbow if there is not a tissue available. Keeping their hands off their mouth, nose, and eyes will also help.
Wash hands often! Assist your children with washing their hands well with soap and water as often as possible, especially after contact with others.
Clean surfaces. Try to keep frequently touched surfaces and objects (desks, faucets, phones, etc.) clean and disinfected. The flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours.
Anyone can contract the flu virus, but you lower the risk for your children by following these tips. Should your children suddenly begin to experience flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, body aches, headaches, fatigue, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose), you should take them to see a doctor. There are many other viruses that can cause symptoms similar to the flu, so it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible so that they can administer a flu test and begin treatment, if needed.
Dr. Kelly Hayes is a board-certified pediatrician expanding community access to quality pediatric care at Granville Primary Care--Oxford. The practice is located at 1032 College Street in Oxford and is now offering Saturday hours for your convenience from 8am-12pm. Call 919-693-6541 or visit www.ghshospital.org to schedule an appointment.