How Can I Prevent My Child from Getting the Flu?

You don’t need us to tell you that the flu is no fun, especially for active kids.

“Symptoms like high-grade fevers, chills, headaches, runny nose, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite and a sore throat can sideline children for days at a time,” says Stephanie Jernigan, MD, Co-Chief, Medicine, Campus Medical Director, Egleston hospital. “The flu also has the potential to develop into pneumonia—an infection of the lungs—without proper rest and care,” warns Dr. Jernigan.

Thankfully, there’s plenty you can do to help keep your child from being one of many who get the flu each year, starting with these six tips.

1. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every year.

Your child, and everyone who cares for him, should get a flu shot. A flu shot helps everyone build up immunity to flu viruses, protecting them from becoming sick.

2. It’s never too late to get a flu shot.

Getting a flu shot at any point during the flu season will decrease everyone’s chance of getting sick from flu.

3. Make hand hygiene a priority.

Keeping everyone’s hands clean with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stop the spread of germs.

4. Beef up your child’s immune system.

A strong immune system is a great defense against any type of illness, including the flu. To give your child’s immunity a boost, make sure he gets enough sleep at night (usually between eight and 10 hours), eats a well-rounded diet full of fruits and vegetables, and gets an hour of physical activity each day.

5. Avoid other sick people as much as possible.

Kids spread germs easily in places like the school bus, classroom and playground. If your child does get sick, keep him home until he’s fever-free for at least 24 hours. Also, babies and the elderly are especially susceptible to the flu virus, so avoid any close contact with those populations, too, if your child gets sick.

6. Follow respiratory etiquette.

Teach your child to cough and sneeze into his elbow instead of his hands, and to clean his hands after tossing out used tissues. Respiratory etiquette is crucial to preventing flu transmission.

Once you’ve taken steps to fend off a flu infection for your child, discover some unexpected places that germs are lurking.

This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.
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