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As the cooler weather comes in, here is what Dr. Agata Toborek, Lexington Clinic Pediatrician, would like all parents to know about keeping their children safe from flu. #askaphysician.

“As the weather cools down and flu season approaches, parents can take steps to protect their young children from the flu.

The flu is caused by the contagious influenza virus. The flu virus is passed by respiratory droplets that are released by sneezing or coughing. It is so contagious that one can also catch the flu virus by touching a surface containing these droplets and then touching his/her their eyes, mouth, (omit comma) or nose.

Family: Little boy lying on sofa and drugs at foregroundChildren less than 5 years old and those with a chronic medication condition like asthma or diabetes etc. are at a higher risk of complications from the flu, which include pneumonia, sinus infections, (omit comma) and ear infections. Sometimes these complications can be dangerous, and the CDC estimates that between 6,000 and 26,000 children younger than 5 years are hospitalized each year in the U.S. because of the flu.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, body aches and chills. They are more severe and have a faster onset then most other respiratory viruses.

Protect your children by staying away from people that show symptoms of the flu. If your child is sick, keep them out of school and child care to avoid spreading the virus to others. Remind kids to cover their coughing and sneezing with their elbow. Remind them to wash their hands often and avoid touching their eyes, mouth, (omit comma) and nose.

The flu vaccine decreases the chances of catching the flu. Since the flu viruses are ever changing, there is a new flu vaccine each year to help protect against the most common strains of the virus for the given year. If your child catches the flu, having the flu vaccine may make his/ her their illness less severe. Studies have shown a decreased risk of hospitalization and death in children who received the flu vaccine that catch the flu.

It takes about 2 weeks for the antibodies to develop after a flu vaccine. The CDC recommends receiving the vaccine before the end of October. However, the flu season can last into spring, so it is not too late to get the vaccine later in the flu season.”

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This article also appears on page 12 and 13 of the November 2019 print edition of Hamburg Journal.

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