6 Ways to Fend Off the Flu

A case of the flu can be quite serious. Follow these flu-prevention tips to keep your child healthy during flu season this year and every year.Mother caring for sick child at home

How Can I Prevent My Child From Getting the Flu?

Reviewed 3/21/2024

Though people often—and incorrectly—use the word “flu” as a synonym for a bad cold, the flu actually is a serious virus. Influenza can make people quite ill and can lead to dangerous complications, so it’s important for parents to take smart steps to help prevent their kids from catching it.

“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,” said Stephanie Jernigan, MD, Co-Chief of Medicine and Campus Medical Director at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Egleston Hospital. “The flu is especially dangerous this year as we continue to face COVID-19, and it 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 the 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 day cares, classrooms and playgrounds. 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, and watch your distance.

Teach your child to cough and sneeze into his elbow instead of his hands and to clean his hands after tossing out used tissues. And continue to socially distance in public, as respiratory etiquette is crucial to preventing flu and COVID-19 transmission.

Rest assured we’re here for you if you need us.

At Children’s, safety is our top priority. We are working hard to protect our patients, families and staff. Whether you have an appointment or need to visit us for emergency care, we’ve put extra precautions in place to keep your family safe.

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 the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.