Children under the age of five years old, especially those who are six months and younger, are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu.
Every year, thousands of children under the age of five are hospitalized as a result of the flu, and some die when they become seriously ill.
The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in children is to get them vaccinated. The flu vaccine is safe for infants to receive, and contrary to what some may believe, a person will not get the flu as a result of vaccination.
Infants can be vaccinated against the flu starting at six months. Two doses given at least four weeks apart are recommended for children ages six months through eight years old receiving the flu vaccine for the first time. An annual flu shot will be sufficient for the following years.
Protecting infants under the age of six months from the flu can be challenging as they are too young to receive a vaccination. Since vaccines aren’t available for these infants, parents must take other precautions to protect them. Here are a few recommendations:
- If you are pregnant, you should receive the flu shot. The vaccine can protect babies for several months after birth.
- Make certain those in contact with your child are vaccinated. This helps to reduce the risk of exposure.
- Avoid getting sick by staying away from those who are sick.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.
- Wash your hands regularly to avoid spreading the virus.
- Recognize the danger signs and seek medical help if you notice your infant experiencing:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Ribs pulling in with breathing
- Decreased eating and urinating, no tears when crying
- High fever greater than 102 F
- Decreased alertness or interaction
It is very important for infants to receive treatment for these symptoms early. Medication is most effective when treating those experiencing symptoms for less than two days. Based on your doctor’s recommendation medication can also be given to children exposed to the flu but have not displayed symptoms.
If you have questions about the flu and vaccination in children and would like to schedule an appointment with a Family Medicine doctor, please call 718- 206-6942.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.