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Your Flu Questions Answered

By Dr. Lewis Curd, Newport News Pediatrics

Each year thousands of children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized with flu complications, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Last year, 115 children were admitted to CHKD from flu complications. 

Doctors recommend children 6 months and older be vaccinated every year, especially those with chronic health conditions. This year in particular, pediatricians are recommending the shot rather than the nasal spray. As a parent you may be wondering whether or not to have your child vaccinated. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked flu questions.

What is the flu?

Influenza - the flu - is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs and is caused by various types of the influenza virus.

How serious is the flu?

Flu illness can range from mild to severe, but is especially dangerous for young children and children with a chronic illness, such as asthma or diabetes.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Symptoms of the flu often mimic those of a cold, however, flu illness is usually accompanied by a high fever, body aches and extreme exhaustion.

How does the flu spread?

Flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets that spray out of an infected person’s mouth and nose when he/she sneezes or coughs. Flu can also spread by touching a surface that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.

How long can a sick person spread the flu?

An infected person can spread the virus from one day before getting sick to five to seven days thereafter. Those with weakened immune systems could infect others for longer periods of time.

Can my child go to school or day care with the flu?

No. Keep your child home to rest and avoid passing the virus on to others.

When can my child return to school after having the flu?

Keep your child home until he has been fever-free for 24 hours - without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

How can I protect my child against the flu?

The single best way to protect yourself and your family is to a flu vaccine every year. As mentioned above, doctors recommend children 6 months and older be vaccinated every year, especially those with chronic health conditions.

It’s also recommended that caregivers of children younger than 6 months of age be vaccinated, as well as healthcare workers.

Is the flu vaccine safe?

Flu vaccine is updated annually to protect against the strains that are most likely to cause illness during the upcoming flu season. The vaccine is safe and is made using strict safety and production methods. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of flu vaccines have been safely given for years.

If your child is sick and you’re not sure if it’s the flu, call your pediatrician. Make sure he gets plenty of rest and drinks lots of fluids. Call your doctor right away if your child develops flu symptoms and is under the age of five or has a chronic health condition.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.