School is back in full swing bringing with it the usual runny nose, sore throat, fever and headaches. A simple flu can lead to more serious conditions such as ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. With the flu easily spread through direct contact with an infected person, children are more susceptible to contracting the illness especially since they are less likely to cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough.
“It is recommended that children are administered the flu or the influenza vaccine to prevent the spread of the condition and also to reduce the likelihood of developing more serious diseases such as pneumonia or bronchitis. They should be vaccinated annually for optimum results. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States both recommend that children above 6 months old are vaccinated as it reduces the flu risk by 50 to 60 per cent,” said Dr. Mohammed Zaheeruddin, Specialist Pediatrician at Medeor 24×7 Hospital, Dubai.
“Babies younger than 6 months are at high risk for contracting the flu so it is recommended that parents, caregivers and older kids are vaccinated to ensure the disease isn’t spread.”
“The vaccine should be ideally given at the end of October as it expires the following June giving a period of 2 to 3 months for the child to build up immunity against the flu before the onset of the next season. However, the flu vaccine should be avoided for those who have a severely weakened immune system, egg allergy, severe asthma and those allergic to vaccine antibiotics,” he continued.
While the flu vaccine helps reduce the risk of contracting the infection, the Doctor also recommends teaching kids simple precautionary methods.
“Teach children the importance of covering their nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough. You can train them to use a handkerchief when they are sick or provide a pack of tissues to use at school. Make sure to wipe down their pencil cases and other stationery daily after school with antibacterial wipes to limit the spread of infections. Wash their toys especially soft toys on a regular basis too,” said Dr. Zaheeruddin.
“Build their immunity by including Vitamin C rich foods in their diet on a daily basis – some good sources are citrus fruit.”
“By preventing the onset of flu through the administration of the vaccine, we help reduce the influx of serious conditions like pneumonia and bronchitis. Flus result in absenteeism at school and can hamper day to day quality of life so we hope by raising awareness on preventive measures we can contribute towards the betterment of the health of the community,” said Dr. Mohammed Berer, the Medical Director at Medeor 24×7 Hospital, Dubai.