The flu season has been upon us for a while now, but with still a long way to go (11 to 13 weeks as of mid-January), this year's particularly bad strain is even more worrying — especially for children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children under 5 are at a very high risk for developing serious complications due to the flu, while children under 2 are at the highest risk.
The strand that seems to be attacking the very young and old is H3N2. Since children's immune systems are still developing, their complications due to the flu can be much more severe, and in some cases, fatal (20 children have already died of the flu this season). So what should you do to protect your kids?
The CDC issued a warning that the flu shot is less effective than usual due to this year's strain, but it still strongly recommends getting it (it's not too late!) as it can greatly decrease the severity of symptoms if you do contract the flu. In addition to the vaccine, the CDC recommends frequent hand-washing; avoiding contact with sick people; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and disinfecting surfaces. If you do suspect your baby or child may be infected, these are some of the possible symptoms to look for:
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Secondary ear and sinus infections
- Secondary pneumonia
If your kids develop any of these symptoms, don't hesitate to call your pediatrician. According to Dr. Ian Tong from Doctor on Demand, your doctor could choose to start your child on an "antiviral medicine within the first 48 hours, because it can lead to a shorter and milder illness," adding, "It's important to act fast."