Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of the flu?
Flu symptoms include:
Loss of appetite
Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea (mostly in children)
If you think your child has the flu:
- See your child’s primary care doctor, who can talk to you about the best treatment options.
- Use our online assessment.
- Call us at 404-785-0000.
What should I do if my child gets the flu?
- Keep your child at home. This reduces the spread of the flu to other family members, co-workers, students and the community.
- Your child will be contagious a day or two before he feels sick.
- Your child may return to school and activities once he has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
What about antiviral medicines like Tamiflu?
- Antiviral medicines like Tamiflu® fight flu viruses in the body and are different from antibiotics. While these medicines can help reduce the length of symptoms from the flu, antiviral medicines are not recommended for everyone.
- Antiviral medicines should be given to people who have an increased risk of severe illness from the flu.
- Your doctor will let you know if an antiviral treatment is best for your child. These medicines work best if they are taken within 24 hours of the first sign of symptoms.
What about rapid flu tests?
A rapid flu test is not reliable. Children's no longer performs this test and does not recommend it.
Do not seek out this test for your child at your pediatrician's office or a Children's Emergency Department or Urgent Care Center.
Who gets the flu?
The flu affects everyone, even healthy children and adults. Some kids may even need to be hospitalized if they get the flu. When kids get sick, their parents may have to miss work to care for them.
Flu vaccines help prevent people from getting the flu. That’s why Children’s recommends that everyone get the flu vaccine every year.
The following people are at high risk for the flu:
- Children 2 and younger
- Pregnant women of all ages
- Anyone who is very overweight
- Adults 65 years or older
- Anyone with chronic health problems like asthma or diabetes
- Anyone with immune system problems
What is the best way to prevent the flu?
The best way to protect you and your family is to get a flu vaccine.
Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about which vaccine is right for your child and your family. There are two types of seasonal flu vaccines:
Two types of flu vaccines
- A shot through the skin—This flu vaccine contains dead flu viruses. This means you cannot get the flu from the shot form of the vaccine. Side effects from the shot include mild redness and irritation at the injection site.
- A spray mist into the nose—This type of flu vaccine contains weakened, live flu viruses. Possible side effects of the nasal spray form of the vaccine may be similar to mild flu symptoms, such as runny nose or headache. A healthy person cannot get the flu from the nasal spray flu vaccine.
Is the flu vaccine safe?
Yes. The flu vaccine does not typically cause side effects.
Vaccines do not cause autism. Some flu vaccines contain thimerosal. This keeps germs from getting into the vaccine. Many studies have proven there is no link between thimerosal and autism.
Other ways to prevent the flu include practicing good hand hygiene to stop the spread of germs.
Make sure your family:
—Wash their hands often with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand gel or foam.
—Cover their mouth and nose when they cough.
—Sneeze into the bend of their elbow.
Who needs the flu vaccine?
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu shot for children ages 6 months and older.
- Children 8 and younger who have never received a flu vaccine may need two vaccine doses to be protected.
- Everyone in your family should get a flu shot to protect those who are not able to get one.
When should my family get vaccinated?
- Children should be vaccinated every flu season because influenza strains change—and so do the vaccinations.
- Have your family vaccinated as soon as vaccines are available. This is the best protection against the flu.
- The vaccine works best when given before flu season begins. It can take two weeks after getting a vaccination for the body to build up protection against flu.
- Even if the vaccine is not given early in the season, it can still provide protection against the flu when it is given.
- The first dose should be given as early in the season as possible to children 8 and younger who need two doses of flu vaccine.
- It is good to have children vaccinated soon after the flu vaccine becomes available, ideally by October.
Where can my family get the flu vaccine?
Vaccines are available through your healthcare provider, but you also can find flu vaccine clinics in local grocery and drug stores.
Find a flu vaccine location near you.