6 Things You Should Know About the Flu

This comes to us from our friends at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

As a parent, you always do everything you can to keep your family safe. With flu season starting early this year, have you taken the steps to protect yourself and your family from flu? Most of the country is now seeing high levels of flu activity, and this may continue for some time. Unfortunately, there is nothing that provides 100% protection against flu.  However, flu vaccine is the single best way to protect against seasonal flu and is especially important for children younger than 5 and children of any age with other health complications such as asthma, neurological disease or immune deficiencies. Here are six important things parents should know:

1. A flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu. If anyone in your family hasn’t gotten a flu vaccine yet, go get vaccinated now! With very few exceptions, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated each year, and it’s especially important for people at high risk to get vaccinated. If your child has a high risk condition or an egg allergy, ask your doctor which vaccine is best. Also, flu vaccine may be a little harder to find now than it was in the fall, so you may need to contact more than one provider (pharmacy, health department, or doctor) to find available vaccine. The flu vaccine locator may be helpful to you in your search.

2. Flu vaccines cannot give you the flu. Flu vaccines cannot give you the flu because they are made from killed or weakened influenza viruses. Unfortunately, there are a couple reasons why it’s still possible to get the flu even if you were vaccinated. First, people may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period (roughly two weeks) it takes the body to build its immune response after vaccination.  Second, there’s a possibility of catching a flu virus not included in the vaccine. And last, some people can get sick with a flu virus that’s in the vaccine even if they got vaccinated, partly due to health and age factors.

3. Stay away from sick people. Flu spreads mainly in the droplets of sick people who are coughing and sneezing, so have your family stay away from people who are sick as much as possible, and, if you are sick, stay away from people who are well. Both kids and parents should stay home during illness and for at least 24 hours after fever is gone unless medical care is needed. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

4. Ask your doctor about antiviral drugs. If your family does get sick with the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat the illness. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. If you or someone in your family has a high risk condition, antiviral drugs are especially important, and treatment should be started as soon as possible. A doctor will decide whether antiviral drugs are needed (you will need a prescription to get them), but you need to take the first step by asking the doctor about your illness.

5. “Everyday healthy habits” are still important. Make sure everyone in your family knows to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. And remember to wash hands with soap and water often. These last tips are good ones to live by during and outside of flu season and can help protect against the spread of other viruses too. Let’s all do our part to prevent the flu!

6. Know when to seek medical attention.  Parents should seek medical attention if their child is not drinking enough fluids, if there is persistent or severe vomiting, if flu-like symptoms linger or improves and returns, if there is difficulty breathing, or other health conditions that are accompanied by flu symptoms, including a fever and/or cough.  For infants, parents should watch for signs of inability to eat, trouble breathing, no tears when crying, and significantly fewer wet diapers than normal.

For more questions about influenza and ways to prevent it, visit: cdc.gov/flu or flu.gov.

Photo: Little girl is blowing her nose via Shutterstock

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  1. by leahluv7

    On January 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    What a lie your magazine publishes. There are says to prevent flu without vaccines. Try colloidal silver for one! But worse is the the fact that you don’t let people know what some of the very toxic ingredients in the vaccines are audio they can masked a truly informed decision. Ingredients like formaldehyde, thimerisol ( mercury) & aluminum! You should be ashamed of yourselves for not telling parents all of the information about vaccines.I wouldn’t be surprised if you you have some incentive to telk people to go get the vaccine now!

  2. by leahluv7

    On January 19, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    Please forgive typos on my first post. Posting from a phone with Swype to text.

  3. by leahluv7

    On January 19, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Also your article says nobody gets the flu from the vaccines and then you completely contradict what your saying in the last line of the paragraph. You say some people do get the flu from vaccines due to health outs age.

  4. by Stephanie

    On January 19, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Leahluv7 you really need to learn how to read cause the last sentence in that paragraph does not say you will get sick from the vaccine. It says you could still get the strand of flu that the vaccines prevents if you are at high risk. Wow!!! Not get off your high horse and go get a flu shot! It’s people like you who don’t get vaccinated that cause this huge outbreak of flu cases!

  5. by Amy

    On January 20, 2013 at 11:01 am

    To stephanie: because of ignorant people like you is that the reason the big flu propaganda is making money, how about you actually do your research first before trying shut down someone else’s comment about the flu vaccine so that you don’t make yourself look stupid before actuay getting your facts straight.

  6. by Gina

    On January 20, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Girls, chill!! Everyone will say whatever they are told from their doctors and from what they read. They all have their opinions, take care of the flu how you think appropriate and dont rip on others that have strong opinions. This is an epidemic and people are actually dying from it so don’t criticize.

  7. by leahluv7

    On January 20, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    To Stephanie
    I did read the paragraph and it says you can still get the flu that you got vaccinated for if you are at high risk. The first sentence of the paragraph says the exact opposite. I have never gotten the flu shot and I haven’t had the flu in over 8 years! So no I’m not the reason for the epedemic. Maybe the big pharma labs that manufacture the flu are. Do your research. I guarantee you I’ve done more than you have because I actually know how to prevent the flu without the vaccine. I was only pointing out a clear contradiction in the statements made. If your cool with getting shot up with formaldehyde, mercury and aluminum then great. But I think both sides of the coin should be told not just the one pushing the vaccine. Do you disagree that a person should be given all info regarding what is going in your body or only part of the info?

  8. by Tanpixoe

    On January 21, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I do agree that this article is a bit biased towards getting the flu vaccine. There are plenty of ways to arm yourself naturally against getting the flu, and once you do have it helping your body through the cleanse. Our well respected pediatrician told us that this flu vaccine is 60 percent likely to help you. Still better than nothing but not enough for us personally to risk getting it. As with all vaccines there are risks and I think people are just as narrow minded if they ignore that as people who can’t see benefit from vaccine. Our Dr didn’t recommend it.
    As to the article above – not great – you should as a magazine I believe deliver well rounded articles to suit the full spectrum of your readers and perhaps research your topics completely as well.

  9. by Amy Jo

    On January 30, 2013 at 7:44 am

    As a medical student I was a bit concerned when reading this that some of the information is incorrect.

    I am certain that antivirals would not be given to anyone who did not have a compromised immune system due to a pre-existing medical condition or if they had become so Ill that they required medical intervention when it is obvious they will not be able to fight the virus themselves.

    Also, a flu vaccine is not necessary for everybody- the people who should receive a vaccine will be clearly outlined on NHS direct and in GP surgeries. Families demanding a vaccine who are not at risk is a waste of NHS money and time.

    The most important health promotion you could have done here is to make it clear who needs to go and get a flu jab and who really doesn’t. Plus telling families that antobiotics will not ifht a virus and that they really DON’T need antivirals unless they are VERY sick.Then if you wanted to outline symptoms which would require medical attention and those which can be dealt with at home, you would have really helped families and the NHS to deal with this epidemic. I’m pretty sure you have just made te problem much worse. Shameful! I don’t know if you know but we really don’t have very many antivirals and if we start handing them out like antibiotics, develop antiviral resistant viruses, then what will we use? It’s not a case of just being cruel wanting people to fight it alone!

    I disagree with the comments scaring people below about what is contained in the vaccine. If you need the vaccine it could be life-saving for you. However, as influenza viruses change so quickly and the vaccine is only made with a prediction of how it will change during the coming months, it is not always a good protection for the virus that ends up in circulation later in the year. That is why you may have the flu vaccine and then still get the flu that year. Because it Varies in it’s effectiveness each year and most people can fight the virus just fine on their own, there really is no point in everyone getting a vaccine.

    You said that you cannot get the flu from the vaccine which is true because the virus is dead. However, the reason many people feel that is the case is because many flu symptoms are caused by the body’s immune system working hard to kill the virus- for example a runny nose. When you have the vaccine you may experience mild symptoms for a very short time as the body tries to get rid of what it sees a a threat (actually a dead virus).

    I hope you will clarify some of these points before GPs all over the country are inundated with unnecessary visits!

    Ps. My daughter has got the flu right now and is coping just fine with lots of water, regular paracetamol and ibuprofen, being undressed down to nappy, tepid baths and plenty of sleep. Those are the things parents ought to know!

  10. [...] presents this post, and the companion piece Flu Advice for Kids. Between the two, they have just about all the bases covered. Early prevention, healthy habits, and [...]