Flu Prevention Basics
For very small children (preschool age and younger), call your pediatrician with any high-grade fever (over 102.5° F). Call also if you are concerned about dehydration (a decrease in urine, lethargy, a sticky mouth, no tears when crying are some of the signs) or if your child is having trouble breathing or looks seriously ill. If you are worried, an earlier call to your doctor will at least put him/her on notice about what is going on and to the fact that you may need to come in.
Vaccination is the most often the best way to prevent influenza. An appropriately vaccinated community suffers much less during flu season. Our national vaccination campaign targets those at high risk of either doing poorly with the flu, getting the flu or spreading the flu. Individuals over 50, those with underlying chronic illnesses, and women pregnant during the flu season are urged to get a flu vaccine. In the pediatric world, the following groups are targeted for immunization:
- Children between six months and 23 months
- Children over six months with underlying heart or lung disease, including asthma
- Children with metabolic, kidney, and certain blood diseases and the immunosuppressed
- Any child on chronic aspirin therapy
Others who should optimally receive the vaccine include household contacts of high-risk individuals, day care and medical personnel, and those working or living in long-term care residential facilities. For children older than five, a second, newer vaccine option is available via a nasal spray. No influenza vaccine is currently available for infants under six months.
Not sure where to go to get the vaccine? Check with a local health department, a pharmacy, or your physician.
Just like the old saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." If the flu vaccine is not recommended for your child or if you are not in favor of vaccinating for some other reason, there are still some fundamental precautions you can take to help prevent the spread of flu in your household.
- Teach children to not cough or sneeze without using a tissue.
- Teach children the importance of washing their hands often and wash your hands frequently.
- Use disposable paper cups in the bathroom and kitchen.
- Avoid direct contact with family members or friends who are infected with the flu virus.
- Regularly wash and disinfect toys that have been sneezed on or placed in your child's mouth.
- See that your family eats a well-balanced diet and drinks plenty of fluids.