Influenza aka flu is caused by a respiratory virus, which grows and spreads rapidly among people when someone coughs or sneezes.
“The influenza virus gets into the air, and people nearby — including children — can inhale it. The virus also spreads when a child touches a contaminated surface and then places their hand on the face,” Dr Saurabh Khanna, a pediatrician and neonatologist at CK Birla Hospital Gurgaon, explains.
The importance of children getting flu shots to build their immunity can’t be stressed enough. “It is mandatory to yearly immunize children for up to five years. The first flu shot is given at six months after birth, as up to six months they have their mother’s immunity through breastfeeding,” says Dr Khanna.
Typically, influenza symptoms are high fever, body aches, sore throat, dry cough along with tiredness, runny nose and diarrhoea.
If you are sick, avoid direct contact with anyone especially children. “If your child is experiencing flu-like symptoms, avoid sending them out to the park or school,” suggests the paediatrician. Not only that, cover your nose and mouth at all times.
Also, always keep your hands clean and make sure your child has a habit of regularly washing their hands. In case, soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
“Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as germs often spread like that,” adds the doctor. Most of all, don’t self-medicate your child.
“Children mostly feel a little under the weather whenever the season transitions. The shift in temperature provides an apt condition for different viruses to thrive, which then spread contagious diseases. Hence, undertaking adequate precautionary measures along with getting vaccinated can go a long way in safeguarding children” Dr Khanna concludes.