It’s Not Too Late to Get a Flu Shot

While this year’s flu season started off rather mild, the Ohio Department of Health reports that the first week of January saw an increase in flu-like illness.

At Cincinnati Children’s, we have seen a rise in patients with confirmed flu the past couple of weeks.

While the flu season is difficult to predict, we anticipate seeing more flu activity before the season concludes.

With this uptick in activity, you might be wondering if it’s too late to get your family vaccinated – and the answer is no!

We encourage families to get the flu vaccine in the early fall to allow time for immunity to build up before the flu season hits. But even two weeks is enough time to give your immunity a boost! So, with the season typically lasting through April, there is still plenty of time for the vaccination to work and provide benefit to you and your family.

Getting vaccinated reduces your family’s risk of becoming seriously ill from a potentially preventable infection. The flu isn’t like the common cold. It makes you seriously sick, with a high fever and body aches. The most serious cases occur in children under the age of 2.

Prevention Measures

On top of getting a flu shot, there are every day precautions that families can take to prevent the flu. Make hand hygiene a routine practice. Use soap and water or a hand sanitizer. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, or cough into your elbow to reduce the spread. Avoid ill persons and family households when there are ill members.  If a family member develops the flu, it’s important to keep him or her home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone to prevent the spread to others.

When To Call Your Doctor

Most kids will be sick for a couple of days with influenza. And while most cases can be managed at home, there may be times when you’re particularly concerned. I recommend you call your doctor when your child is sicker than you feel comfortable caring for without advice. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used for comfort and fever control. Avoid aspirin-containing products, as use of these in children with influenza has been associated with Reye Syndrome. And keeping your child hydrated is incredibly important.

Beverly Connelly MD

About the Author: Beverly Connelly

Dr. Connelly is the director of the Infection Control Program at Cincinnati Children's. She is an expert on proper hand hygiene and limiting the spread of germs.

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