Keeping Children Healthy and Safe During Flu Season
Tips and guidelines on how to ensure kids stay healthy plus what to do if they contract H1N1 fluFlu Season is always a difficult time of year, especially when it comes to keeping kids healthy and well however, this year presents an even bigger concern with the addition of the H1N1 virus. Since New Jersey has just been put on high alert for H1N1 flu, it is important to know the facts when caring for children.
The first step in protecting kids is to make sure they receive not only the seasonal flu vaccination, but also the H1N1 vaccination. "People from the ages of 6 months to 24 years are in one of the priority groups of those to be vaccinated for H1N1 as the virus seems to have made an impact on this group," says Richard J. Scott, M.D., senior vice president of clinical effectiveness and medical affairs for Meridian Health. "Side effects to this vaccine seem to be rare as both types of vaccine are closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but would mirror those of the seasonal flu vaccination." It is also important to remember that the H1N1 FluMist is as equally effective as the vaccine.
Another preventative measure includes frequent hand washing. Encourage children to wash their hands often, but mostly after playing with other children, toys, and before eating. Children should sing "happy birthday" to themselves twice while washing to ensure they are getting their hands as clean as possible.
Some serious warning signs that could indicate a child is becoming ill include fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, not waking up or interacting, being so irritable that he or she doesn't want to be held, flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough, fever with a rash.
"If a child exhibits any of the above flu like symptoms, it is important to call your doctor right away, as most antiviral medications work more effectively within the first 48 hours of symptoms," explains Scott. "According to the CDC, it is very important to keep the child home until at least 24 hours after they no longer show signs of fever."
For further information on the H1N1 virus or the seasonal flu, please visit meridianhealth.com/H1N1 or flu.gov.
Meridian Health is a family of not-for-profit health care organizations comprising Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Meridian Partner Companies that include home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, ambulatory care, ambulance services, and occupational health centers located throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties.