Flu season is in full swing and it’s time to educate ourselves on the influenza virus, the differences between the flu and the common cold, prevention tips and the importance of the flu vaccine. The flu and cold are often confused with each other because of the similarity in symptoms: fatigue, body aches, cough and perhaps a fever. Flu season usually starts in the fall and ends in the spring. The flu virus is common and unpredictable, and it can cause serious complications and death, even in healthy children. Each year, on average, 5 – 20% of the US population gets the flu and more than 20,000 people are hospitalized from complications.
Children younger than five years of age – especially those younger than two years old – are at risk of serious flu-related complications including viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, middle ear infections, respiratory failure, seizures and even in some instances death.
There are things your family can do to help prevent contracting the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises:
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you or your child gets sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your 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.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
- If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs, follow public health advice. This may include information about how to increase distance between people and other measures.
It is critical for both adults and children to get the flu vaccine to protect against infection and help prevent the spread of seasonal flu to others. It is safe, effective and could potentially save your life or your child’s life. We recommend the vaccine for anyone over the age of 6 months, including pregnant women. The flu vaccine is offered in many convenient locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, retail stores, pharmacies, health centers and by many employers. We encourage you to take advantage of the flu vaccine whenever and wherever it is offered. It is never too late to vaccinate – get your flu shot.
Our newest location, Pediatric Associates of Tampa Bay – Citrus Park (located at 12871 Citrus Plaza Drive in Tampa) has flu vaccine and available appointments. Schedule your shot-only visit today at 813-471-4445 and check out our newest family friendly location. Locations also available in Riverview and Trinity.