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Protect Young Children from Flu-Related Complications

Young children, particularly those in school or daycare facilities, are always at higher risk of contracting various contagious illnesses. While common colds and viruses are an uncomfortable nuisance, they generally aren’t much of a worry for parents. Unfortunately, more serious illnesses like the flu can lead to dangerous complications that could result in hospitalization or even death. Thankfully, simply getting the flu shot each year is enough to help keep your child safe.

Potential Flu-Related Complications

The flu virus itself is no fun to deal with, but in some cases, serious health issues can develop as a result of the infection. Flu-related complications young children may experience are:

  • Pnuemonia
  • Dehydration
  • Brain dysfunction such as encephalopathy
  • Sinus problems and ear infections
  • Worsening of present, long-term health issues like heart disease or asthma
  • Death

Children at Higher Risk

Children most at risk for complications are younger than five, and especially those under two. Babies 6 months old or younger are unable to be vaccinated, so they solely rely on protection from others to stay safe. Regardless of age, any child who has chronic health problems such as asthma, neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, chronic lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, diabetes, a weakened immune system from disease or medication, or other health issues are at higher risk of developing flu-related complications.

Prevent the Flu & Related Complications

The single best way to prevent the flu and any related complications is by receiving the yearly flu vaccine. Everyone age 6 months and older should receive the shot, preferably by the end of October before the peak of the season. Getting vaccinated is vital, not just for children, but for everyone, as it helps to protect others who are at higher risk that may not be able to receive the shot for medical reasons.

Because the virus strains change year-over-year, an annual vaccine is essential in order to build the necessary immunity against what is currently in circulation. Some children require two doses, the second of which is administered at least 28 days after the first, so getting the first as early as possible in the season is recommended. Keep in mind that it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop after receiving the vaccine, which means it is still possible to come down with the flu within that window of time.

Although the vaccine is not 100% effective, simply having it reduces the risk of hospitalizations and experiencing severe complications in the event of infection. Other measures should also be taken, such as cleaning your home with disinfectants, avoiding close contact with others who are sick, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and, of course, if you are ill, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone – without the use of a fever-reducer – to prevent it from spreading.

You would do anything to protect your children from harm, so take the small, simple step of getting your family vaccinated. If your child still needs a flu shot, or for any flu-related questions or concerns, visit us today.