There's nothing worse than trying to get into the holiday spirit and hearing your kid coughing and sneezing. Parents have to stay vigilant to keep their children healthy — especially during this year's "tridemic" (triple epidemic) with the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (or RSV), and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Flu season in particular peaks from December through February, so now is the best time to make sure you're properly prepared. To give moms and dads a head start on protecting their little ones, we've gathered some helpful tips on how to make it through the fall and winter seasons with minimal disruption.
Teach Them How To Not Spread Germs
Though most people perfected their hand-washing skills during the COVID-19 pandemic, children sometimes need an extra reminder. Double check to make sure they are washing their hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, especially after eating and using the bathroom. It's also recommended that they avoid touching their face — especially around the eyes, nose, and mouth — to avoid spreading bacteria and catching an infection. If your child is old enough, they can help wipe down high-touch surfaces like the bathroom sink, kitchen countertops, and doorknobs.
If your child is experiencing any flu or cold-like symptoms, keep them home from school and away from others. As noted by the CDC, flu symptoms may include, but are not limited to, fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some of these symptoms may look different in children — such as refusing to walk (severe muscle pain) and no tears when crying or not peeing for over eight hours (dehydration) — so it's important to pay attention to any symptoms your child has and to take them to the doctor if they appear to get worse.
Update Your Child's Healthcare Team
When it comes to your children's health, you want fast and accurate answers, especially when you're home sick with your kid. For times when you can't get the kids or yourself to a doctor's office, have concerns about sitting in a waiting room with other sick people, or just need to talk to a doctor quickly, having access to telehealth doctors through MDLIVE comes in handy.
With MDLIVE, you don't need to wait until your child is sick to create an account. You can create an account in advance so that, when needed, you can speak to a board-certified doctor quickly, usually within minutes. The process is easy — enter some basic information and you're ready to go. And, by simply entering your insurance information, you can see if MDLIVE services are covered and whether you have a copay. Most employers offer telehealth in their health benefits for employees. The doctors can even have a prescription sent to the pharmacy of your choice when medically necessary. Doctors are available on demand 24/7 so you can see someone as soon as possible or schedule an appointment that works for you and your child's schedule.
Schedule Their Flu Shots ASAP
Getting the flu vaccine should be at the top of all parents' lists, as the vaccine gives children the best chance at fighting off infection. The CDC recommends that everyone should get theirs annually; it's never too late to get it checked off your to-do list. In young children, it's especially important to take this preventative measure as the flu can lead to severe health complications to growing bodies.
And this isn't just for the kids — adults, you also need to get your vaccinations in order. Everyone in your household should be getting their annual flu vaccine and COVID-19 boosters, especially those who have or are around infants to give the children a better chance of avoiding the flu. For kids that have a hard time with shots, the vaccine can also be given as a nasal spray, which makes getting them protected even easier. Schedule a visit with your children's primary doctor or, for a faster trip, stop by a local pharmacy that offers flu shots.
Keep Your Home Stocked With Supplies
Running out of supplies is the last thing you need when there's a sneezing or coughing kid around. Make a list of everything you'll need to make it through the cold and flu season and double check you have everything at home before anyone starts feeling sick.
Stock up on tissues, and the softer they are, the better. Tissues infused with lotion are perfect for sensitive skin, resulting in less irritation for your child's nose. Keeping liquid (or powdered) electrolytes on hand is also important as an imbalance can lead to additional physical symptoms including fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps, and even vomiting. Medicines for children to relieve their cold symptoms and reduce fevers should be in your bathroom cabinet as well. You'll also want to keep a thermometer handy, just in case you have to check for fever. And to really make your kid feel warmer inside, a hot drink or mug full of soup might do the trick. Of course, as the saying goes: If you stay ready, you don't have to get ready.