By: Mel Hendrickson, RN, Penfield Children’s Center

Achoo! It’s that time of year again; everyone seems to be sick. The flu is easy to catch and easy to spread to others. Here are some tips and tricks for lessening your chances of catching the influenza virus and what to watch for when your little one starts to feel under the weather.

 How to stay safe from the flu:

  • Get your flu shot. Even if you get the flu, getting the flu shot can lessen the severity of the flu virus you get.
  • Wash your hands and wash them often! Keep in mind that you should use soap and water and that you should be actively washing your hands for a MINIMUM of 20 seconds.
  • Stay home when you’re sick.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow; make sure to cover your mouth and nose completely.
  • Be aware of flu symptoms. Don’t brush off flu symptoms as allergies. You don’t necessarily need to have a fever to receive a flu diagnosis.

 How safe is the flu shot?

The flu vaccine is safe for babies over the age of 6 months old, and you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. It is especially important for babies, the elderly, pregnant women and immunocompromised people to get the flu shot. As with any type of vaccine, if you notice signs such as hives, dizziness or difficulty breathing after receiving the vaccine, you should be seen by a medical professional.

Even with all these safeguards in place, you and your child can still get the flu. Make sure to check with your child’s pediatrician if you start to notice that your little one has:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

And, take your child to the emergency room if he/she displays signs of:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decrease in alertness
  • Inability to calm down, uncontrollable crying

If you or your child does come down with the flu, the doctor will most likely suggest lots of rest and fluids, but may also prescribe an antiviral medication such as Tamiflu. Although an antiviral will not “cure” someone of the flu, it can lessen the severity of the illness.

 What steps have you taken to stay safe from the flu?