1 Flu Information The Flu: A Guide for Parents Influenza (also known as flu) is a contagious respiratory Protect your child illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. Flu is different from a cold, and usually comes on How can I protect my child from flu? suddenly. Each year flu viruses cause millions of illnesses, The first and best way to protect against flu is to get a yearly hundreds of thousands of hospital stays and thousands or flu vaccine for yourself and your child. tens of thousands of deaths in the United States. § Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months Flu can be very dangerous for children. CDC estimates that and older every year. Flu shots and nasal spray flu between 6,000 and 26,000 children younger than 5 years vaccines are both options for vaccination. have been hospitalized each year in the United States § It’s especially important that young children and children because of influenza. The flu vaccine is safe and helps with certain long-term health problems get vaccinated. protect children from flu. § Caregivers of children at high risk of flu complications should get a flu vaccine. ( Babies younger than 6 months What parents should know are at high risk for serious flu complications, but too young to get a flu vaccine.) How serious is flu? While flu illness can vary from mild to severe, children Pregnant women should get a flu vaccine to protect § often need medical care because of flu. Children younger themselves and their baby from flu. Research shows that than 5 years and children of any age with certain long-term flu vaccination protects the baby from flu for several health problems are at high risk of flu complications like months after birth. pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections. Some Flu viruses are constantly changing and so flu vaccines § health problems that are known to make children more are updated often to protect against the flu viruses that vulnerable to flu include asthma, diabetes and disorders research indicates are most likely to cause illness during of the brain or nervous system. the upcoming flu season. How does flu spread? Is flu vaccine safe? Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly by droplets made Flu vaccines are made using strict safety and production when someone with flu coughs, sneezes or talks. These measures. Millions of people have safely received flu droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. vaccines for decades. Flu shots and nasal spray flu vaccines A person also can get flu by touching something that has flu are both options for vaccination. Different types of flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, eyes, or nose. vaccines are licensed for different ages. Each person should get one that is appropriate for their age. CDC and the What are flu symptoms? American Academy of Pediatrics recommend an annual flu Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, vaccine for all children 6 months and older. sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, What are the benefits of getting a flu vaccine? feeling tired and sometimes A flu vaccine can keep you and your child from getting § vomiting and diarrhea (more sick. When vaccine viruses and circulating viruses are common in children than adults). matched, flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk Some people with the flu will not of getting sick with flu by about half. have a fever. § Flu vaccines can keep your child from being hospitalized from flu. One recent study showed that flu vaccine reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit admission by 74%.
2 Flu vaccine can prevent your child from dying from flu. § Ribs pulling in with § each breath A study using data from recent flu seasons found that flu vaccine reduced the risk of flu-associated death by Chest pain § half among children with high risk medical conditions § Severe muscle pain (child and by nearly two-thirds among children without medical refuses to walk) conditions. Dehydration (no urine for § Flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you § 8 hours, dry mouth, no do get sick. tears when crying) Getting yourself and your child vaccinated also can § Not alert or interacting § who may be more vulnerable to serious protect others when awake flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, Seizures § and people with certain long-term health problems. § Fever above 104°F What are some other ways I can protect my In children less than 12 § weeks, any fever child against flu? In addition to getting a flu vaccine, you and your child § Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen should take everyday actions to help prevent the spread § Worsening of chronic medical conditions of germs. This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical Stay away from people who are sick as much as possible to provider for any other symptom that is severe or concerning. keep from getting sick yourself. If you or your child are sick, avoid others as much as possible to keep from infecting Is there a medicine to treat flu? them. Also, remember to regularly cover your coughs Yes. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that can be and sneezes, wash your hands often, avoid touching your used to treat flu illness. They can shorten your illness and eyes, nose and mouth, and clean surfaces that may be make it milder, and they can prevent serious complications contaminated with flu viruses. These everyday actions can that could result in a hospital stay. Antivirals work best when help reduce your chances of getting sick and prevent the started during the first 2 days of illness. Antiviral drugs are spread of germs to others if you are sick. However, a yearly recommended to treat flu in people who are very sick (for flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu illness. example, people who are in the hospital) or people who are at high risk of serious flu complications who get flu symptoms. If your child is sick Antivirals can be given to children and pregnant women. What can I do if my child gets sick? How long can a sick person spread flu to others? Talk to your doctor early if you are worried about your People with flu may be able to infect others from 1 day before child’s illness. getting sick to up to 5 to 7 days after. Severely ill people or young children may be able to spread the flu longer, especially if Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks they still have symptoms. enough fluids. If your child is 5 years or older and does not have a long- Can my child go to school, day care, or camp if term health problems and gets flu symptoms, including a he or she is sick? fever and/or cough, consult your doctor as needed. No. Your child should stay home to rest and to avoid spreading Children younger than 5 years of age – especially those flu to other children or caregivers. younger than 2 years – and children with certain long-term health problems (including asthma, diabetes and disorders When can my child go back to school after of the brain or nervous system), are at high risk of serious having flu? flu complications. Call your doctor or take your child to the Keep your child home from school, day care, or camp for at doctor right away if they develop flu symptoms. least 24 hours after their fever is gone. (The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) A fever What if my child seems very sick? is defined as 100°F (37.8°C)* or higher. Even healthy children can get very sick from flu. If your child *Many authorities use either 100 (37.8 degrees Celsius) or 100.4 F (38.0 degrees Celsius) is experiencing the following emergency warning signs, you as a cut-off for fever, but this number can vary depending on factors such as the method should go to the emergency room: of measurement and the age of the person. § Fast breathing or trouble breathing Bluish lips or face § For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/children.htm or call 800-CDC-INFO March 2019 | 19_303750-A
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