The most important step you can take to prevent the flu this winter is getting yourself and your family vaccinated against the flu. The vaccine is a safe and effective way to keep your family protected from flu throughout the holiday season.
What is the flu?
Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory infection illness caused by influenza viruses. Because flu viruses change, each year a vaccine is made that matches the virus affecting communities. It spreads from person-to-person and can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases, can lead to death.
How serious is the flu?
Flu illness can vary from mild to severe. While the flu can be serious even in people who are otherwise healthy, it can be especially dangerous for young children and children of any age who have certain long term health conditions, including asthma (even mild or controlled). Each year an average of 20,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized due to influenza complications.
What are some ways I can protect my child against the flu?
The first and most important thing you can do is to get a flu vaccine for yourself and your child. If your child is ""shot shy,"" consider FluMist®. It's a nasal spray vaccine that is safe and effective for healthy children, 2 years of age and older. In addition to getting vaccinated, take – and encourage your child to take – everyday steps that can help prevent the spread of germs.
· Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and then wash your hands.
· Stay away from people who are sick.
· Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
· Keep things like surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and practice equipment clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.
When can my child go back to school or practice after having the flu?
Keep your child home from school, day care or sports' practice for at least 24 hours after his/her fever is gone. (Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) A fever is defined as a temperature of 100°F or higher.
To get more information on how you can protect your family and prevent the flu, go to flu.gov.