As a parent, keeping your kids healthy and safe is a main priority. You would never do anything to put your child’s safety at risk. Most parents have a common goal, to raise healthy, happy and well developed children.
There are times though, where you may be involuntarily putting your child’s health at risk. Knowledge is power so educating yourself is one of the most important things you can do.
When my son was just a baby, only about 8 months old (he is now 8) he got sick. My husband and I had not been feeling very well either, but we had to go about daily life. Unfortunately, little man was not feeling well, fever, snotty nose. I was starting to get a little worried, but I thought that perhaps it would pass, he must have caught it from my husband or me. The next day we were having a hard time controlling his fever, he had what sounded like a horrible barking cough and he was struggling to breath. We rushed him into the emergency room where the nurse took his vitals and realized that his extremities were turning blue! As a new mother, I was panicking It was the scariest thing I have seen in my life. The hospital had to give him something to help open up his airways and they had him lying down with the mask on. Even just reliving the moment now I am in tears. It was so scary. They ended up doing a swab and x-ray and let us know that he indeed had the flu, and it was severe. We got to go home with him after a night in the hospital, with some prescriptions for inhalers and some medications to help control the fever.
Thank goodness he ended up being ok and that he is now a healthy and happy 8 year old, but it could have gone a totally different way. I went and researched the difference between the flu and a cold as soon as I got him home, so that I would be able to spot the difference next time.
The thing is, my husband and I never got the flu shot. If we had of, it is possible that we may have avoided that entire ordeal, we could have ensured our son’s health instead of leaving it up to chance.
What is the Flu and Who is at Risk?
Influenza, which is most commonly referred to as the flu is nothing to play with, it’s a contagious respiratory infection that can lead to many different negative outcomes.
The symptoms of the flu can be similar to a cold so learning to decipher the difference is very important. The symptoms of the flu include fever, aches and pains, headaches, and extreme fatigue. For some, these symptoms can worsen and may require hospitalization.
The flu can easily be spread by sneezing, coughing, talking and from surfaces or hands that are contaminated with the virus. The flu virus can live up to 8 hours on surfaces and did you know that a sneeze can spread the virus up to 2 meters (6 feet) away.
Healthy individuals can become seriously ill with the flu. Children under 5, especially those under 2, are at higher risk of serious illness and even death from the flu. It’s easier for school-age kids to spread the flu virus while at school.
There are ways to prevent the flu, like ensuring that your hands are cleaned well with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available, , however, it’s difficult to protect yourself from other people. The best defense against the flu, is the vaccine.
If you plan on getting the flu shot, the best plan is to ensure that you are getting it early every year. If you do get the flu, you may not get as sick after you’ve had the flu shot. Keep in mind, that not only does the flu shot protect you from getting ill, it can also protect others around you who are at a greater risk of getting seriously sick from the flu.
It’s very important to note that you cannot get the flu from the vaccine. During the time of year that the flu shot is most commonly given (fall and winter) many cold viruses are going around that may have similar symptoms to the flu virus and can easily be mistaken for the flu, which therefore has led people to believe they got the flu from the shot. I know I have fallen victim to this belief.
Did you know?
It is possible for the flu virus to change from year to year. The flu vaccine is reviewed each year and is updated, when necessary, to match those strains that the World Health Organization believes will circulate during the upcoming flu season. This is why it’s important to get yourself and your children vaccinated every year.
The flu vaccine is safe. In Canada, rigorous testing of all vaccines is done to ensure safety.
Flu Vaccine Effectiveness
The flu can be prevented in up to 60% of the overall population when the vaccine is well matched to the flu strains circulating in that flu season. For high-risk adults, immunization with the flu shot has been shown to reduce the number of physician visits, hospitalization, and death.
Your Child and the Flu Shot
If you are planning on getting your young child the flu shot this year there are many ways that you can keep your child calm and relaxed. If you are a breastfeeding mother, try feeding your baby directly before, during and right after getting the flu shot. The familiar taste of your breast milk and physical closeness that breastfeeding provides will help your baby to stay calm. You can also chat or sing a song to your child to ensure you keep their minds busy. If your child has a familiar stuffed animal, toy, blanket or book, you can bring those with you as well. Having ways available to calm your children will help them through the process of receiving the flu shot. Reassuring words and close cuddles can be so helpful.
Wanting to keep your children safe and healthy is a very noble goal, the kind of goal you should put a lot of effort into. Start by getting your children the flu shot to help to ward off the flu this year.
Visit ontario.ca/flu for more information!
Does your family get the flu shot?
Disclaimer: This post was developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The opinions are my own.