The terms “social distancing”, “virtual schooling” and “masking” have quickly become a part of our everyday vocabulary as a result of COVID-19. We know for certain these safety measures helped to slow the spread of pandemic, but they also kept pesky viruses and infections at bay. Since March 2020, my colleagues at Pediatric Associates and I have seen a drastic decrease in common illnesses and viruses in children, however none more so than Influenza, also known as the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only one child died from the flu during this past season. Flu diagnoses were at an all-time low among Pediatric Associates patients. While one death is one too many, it’s important to note than in 2019-2020, there were 199 flu-related deaths in children and 144 the season before that.
The increased vaccination rate for COVID-19 has caused safety precautions such as social distancing and masking to decrease. However, it’s important to keep in mind that although those vaccinated for COVID-19 may be at less risk for developing complications from the coronavirus, they’re not any safer from the flu or other respiratory viruses. The same applies for children. At Pediatric Associates, we have already seen a large uptick in visits for the common cold as a result of reduced safety precautions and a return to school and camp.
Perhaps one of the biggest lessons we have learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is that the decisions we make as both individuals and communities at large can hugely impact the fate of a particular outbreak. We can all play a part in preventing a dangerous and potentially devastating flu season ahead. While I have included my top recommendations for sensible precautions, my top recommendation is getting yourself and your children (if over the age of 6 months) vaccinated as early into flu season as possible. Now is the time!
If your child is over the age of 6 months and a patient at any of our four Pediatric Associates of Tampa Bay locations, you can schedule a flu shot by visiting calling 855-KIDZ-DOC.
Ways to Fight the Flu
Our steps to Fight the Flu may look very familiar! That’s because the same preventative measures that put your family in the best position to stay healthy and fend off the flu are also recommended to prevent COVID-19. If your family has maintained the following safety measures since COVID-19 began, you are off to a great start!
- Get the Flu Shot: We recommend all adults and children over the age of 6 months receive the flu vaccine every year as flu strains can change over time.
- Wash Your Hands: Good hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent a cold or flu from spreading. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover Coughs and Sneezes: Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, preferably with your elbow rather than your hand.
- Keep Surfaces Clean: Clean surfaces such as tables, countertops, door knobs and children’s toys.
- Stay Home: Stay home if you are feeling sick to avoid passing the flu onto others.
Presented by Pediatric Associates of Tampa Bay | Originally published in our 2021 September Issue