Winter is here, and that means holiday festivities, snowball fights and seasonal sniffles. Here are some ways to protect your family from getting sick with the common cold, the flu and H1N1 this season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises people to be proactive in stopping the spread of cold and flu. The “Take 3” initiative urges you to protect yourselve and others by doing three important things:
1. get the flu vaccine.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three viruses that are believed to be most common this season — but not against the 2009 H1N1 infection. The CDC suggests seeking the professional advice of your doctor as to whether you are at greater risk for H1N1 infection and if you should be vaccinated for that as well. Those for whom H1N1 poses the greatest threat include children, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect you and your family from flu.” The organization believes that H1N1 could be widespread through the spring and advises people to get the H1N1 vaccine as well. Children between the ages of six months and 10 years need two doses of the H1N1 vaccine. The second dose should be given four weeks after the first dose to ensure maximum protection from H1N1.
2. Take Everyday Preventative Actions.
Follow these common sense steps from the to help prevent the spread of cold and flu:
- When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer often.
- To avoid spreading germs, try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and if you are sick, the CDC advises that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever breaks (except to go out to the doctor or to pick up medicine, of course).
3. Take Antiviral Drugs for the flu if your doctor recommends them.
Antiviral medication prescribed by your physician can treat the flu by preventing flu viruses from reproducing in your body. They can also shorten the time that you are sick, minimize symptoms and prevent serious complications.
In addition to following these tips, check in with the CDC website regularly to get the latest information regarding the flu and H1N1.
Looking for a flu shot?
Your family physician or pediatrician should be the first call you make when looking for a flu shot. Also, be advised that flu shots are available in both injection and nasal mist forms (though the mist is not advised for people with asthma and other medical conditions). A nasal mist may be easier for your child to handle than a needle poke.