Protect Your Kids from the Flu this Season

It’s not too early to get the flu shot! The flu season can start as early as October, (peaks in January or February) and can last as late as May. CHOC along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommends that all children ages 6 months or older be immunized against influenza as soon as the vaccine is available.

New quadrivalent influenza vaccines for the 2013-2014 season contain the same three strains as the trivalent vaccine, plus an additional B strain. The flu vaccine is especially important for people who are at high risk of complications from flu, including:

• Pregnant women
• People 50 years of age and older
• People of any age with chronic medical conditions
• People who are immunosuppressed
• People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
• Health care workers

For a complete list, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/FLU/

Also, remind your family to take everyday preventive steps to stop the spread of germs. This includes washing hands often, using hand sanitizer, postponing play dates with sick kids, and wearing appropriate outdoor clothing. If you are sick with the flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading influenza to others.

For more information, check out this CHOC article with frequently asked questions:
http://blog.chocchildrens.org/who-needs-a-flu-vaccine/

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Three-Step Approach to Fighting the Flu

The 2012-2013 influenza season started early and activity remains high nationwide. This may continue for some time. With that in mind, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a three-step approach to fighting influenza:

1. Get a flu vaccine.
2. Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

In addition, the flu vaccine may be harder to find now than it was earlier in the season. You may need to contact more than one provider (pharmacy, health department, or doctor) to find available vaccine. The flu vaccine locator provided by the CDC ( http://flushot.healthmap.org/ ) may be helpful in your search.

For more information, visit the CDC flu resources.

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Reduce the Risks of Cold and Flu Bugs

It’s cold and flu season! While there’s no protection against germs at school or the workplace, there are ways to reduce the risks.

Your child might have a cold if he or she has a stuffy, runny nose, a sore throat, a hacking cough or sneezes frequently. The flu spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Signs of the flu include fatigue and weakness, a high fever, severe aches and pains, headache and a cough.

To help prevent these bad bugs, remind your little ones – and yourself – to:

– Wash hands often to keep from spreading germs.

– Place travel-size hand sanitizer in their backpacks.

– Postpone play dates with sick kids.

– Bundle up to stay warm. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing.

– Consider getting your child a flu shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends yearly flu shots for all children ages 6 months and older. The best time to get the shot is October or November, however it’s not too late to get it now!

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Tips to Prevent the Flu This Season

Tis the season for winter fun…and the flu bug? The flu season typically starts in October and lasts through April. That’s when people tend to spend more time indoors and in school, close to others who may be infected. Although the flu does seem to be going around a lot right now, we are still a few weeks away from the peak of the flu season, which is in January or February.

One way the flu spreads is when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

Signs of the flu include fatigue and weakness, a high fever, severe aches and pains, headache and a cough. With a cold, on the other hand, your child might have a stuffy, runny nose, a sore throat, a hacking cough or sneezes frequently.

While there’s no real protection against every germ, there are ways to reduce the risks. Remind your children to wash their hands often. Place travel-size hand sanitizer in their backpacks. Postpone play dates with sick kids. Remind your children not to share linens, utensils and dishes with those who are sick.

In addition, consider getting your child a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends yearly flu shots for all children ages 6 months and older.

For more tips about the flu, please click here: http://www.choc.org/pressroom/index.cfm?id=P00296&nid=536

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CHOC Recommends Flu Preventive Guidelines

Have you seen the movie Contagion? What did you think? It’s certainly causing moviegoers to think twice about the possibility of a virus of that magnitude! Well, while the events portrayed in this movie are fiction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an infectious disease outbreak with that kind of impact could indeed happen. Luckily, the CDC and other dedicated U.S. and international agencies are working hard every day at preventing an outbreak like that, and keeping the community safe through research, education and prevention efforts.

On a smaller scale, the flu is a common, yet serious contagious disease that we need to stay informed on, especially with the flu season just around the corner in the fall. In the United States, influenza (flu) season usually begins in October and can last until May. The key to protecting your family is prevention.

The most recent flu vaccine recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stress the importance of getting a new flu shot this season. CHOC Children’s Hospital couldn’t agree more. The 2011-2012 flu vaccine will protect against the same three influenza strains as last year’s vaccine, including the 2009 H1N1 virus that caused the first global pandemic in more than 40 years and resulted in substantial illness, hospitalizations and deaths.

It’s recommended that everyone 6 months or older receive an influenza vaccine. Special efforts should be made to immunize all family members, household contacts, and out-of-home care providers of children who are younger than 5 years; children with high-risk conditions (asthma, diabetes, or neurologic disorders); health care personnel; and all women who are pregnant, considering pregnancy, or breastfeeding during the flu season.

In addition, the AAP recommends the following guidelines for administering the influenza vaccine to children depending on the child’s vaccine history and age at the time of the first administered dose:

• Infants younger than 6 months are too young to be immunized.
• Children 9 years of age and older need only one dose of influenza vaccine.
• Children 6 months through 8 years of age need only one dose of the 2011-2012 influenza vaccine if they received at least 1 dose last season.
• Children 6 months through 8 years of age should receive two doses if they did not receive any vaccine last season. The second dose should be administered at least four weeks after the first.
• An intradermal vaccine has been recommended for people 18 through 64 years of age.

For more tips and guidelines on the seasonal flu, please click here: http://www.choc.org/pressroom/news.cfm?nid=536

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