Flu season. It’s that time of year when we duck for cover in Minnesota. We all know someone who has battled the flu.
The flu is a serious respiratory illness, and the symptoms can be downright nasty – sudden onset of fever, cough, congestion, sore throat, achy muscles, fatigue, occasionally pneumonia, and, in extreme cases, death.
Each year, an average of 20,000 kids under 5 are hospitalized because of flu-related complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza causes more hospitalizations among young children than any other vaccine-preventable illness.
“Don’t think of influenza as ‘just the flu.’ For infants and children especially, it can be a scary, very severe disease. Prevent it,” said Patsy Stinchfield, nurse practitioner and director of infectious disease at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
Here are some easy reminders to keep your family and you healthy during flu season:
- Get vaccinated against the flu. All people 6 months of age and over need an annual flu vaccine. While flu vaccines are not perfect (100 percent effective), not getting one provides zero protection.
- Wash your hands with soap and water. At Children’s, we wash ‘em proud. You should wash your hands before and after eating, after using the restroom, after blowing your nose and sneezing.
- Cover your cough and sneeze. If you’re visiting Children’s, we ask that you wear a mask if you have a cough. We ask staff and visitors to stay home if they are ill and if they have a cough to wear a mask to prevent the spread of such things as influenza and other infections to our vulnerable patients.
- Sick? Please, stay home from work or school. If your child is sick, keep him/her home from school and daycare, too.