CDC recommends everyone over 6 months get the seasonal flu vaccine.
Although it’s generally more of a hassle than anything else, the flu can still be deadly, particularly for the elderly and young children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that there were at least 100 influenza-associated deaths among children last winter around the country.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps that parents can take for both themselves and their kids. Those include everything from washing hands regularly to getting the annual flu vaccine. The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months get the seasonal flu vaccine.
“Prevention is the best cure for the flu,” says Katie Donnelly, an emergency medicine physician at Children’s National Health System. “There are no really good treatments for the flu—it’s mostly supportive care after that, and it’s much more than just a bad cold.”
Donnelly recommends that parents consider bringing their kids to the doctor for a visit if a child is particularly fussy, complains of strong pain in the head, neck or ears or if they’re having a hard time breathing or showing signs of dehydration. If a child maintains a fever of 104 degrees for more than a day or hits that temperature several times, that might also be a sign that a trip to the doctor is needed. At the same time, she cautions that very young children under 3 months old, should be taken to the doctor if a fever spikes above 100.4 degrees.
The antiviral drug Tamiflu can be helpful in lessening symptoms of the flu, but only if it’s taken within 48 hours of the onset of the illness. Those who have come down with the illness, or their parents, should consult a doctor to see whether taking Tamiflu is appropriate.