Winter vacations are something the whole family looks forward to in the year. This is the time when we plan outings, visiting friends and family and shopping for upcoming X’mas and the New Year celebrations. We also enrol our kids in extra-curricular activities like karate and crafts.
Why I Chose Influenza Vaccine for my Family this winters?
My daughter is an extrovert who loves hanging outdoors with her friends and activities like football, skating and dancing. I am happy with this as I feel physical activities are a good way to keep kids fit and healthy. At the same time, I have to make sure that my kids stay protected from infections.
Like every winter season, I am ready with my plan of action for winter 2019 too. Do you want to know what my to-do list of winter contains?
- Influenza vaccine for the entire family.
- Enrolling daughter in a nearby activity camp.
- Vacation at a suitable and safe place.
- Explaining self-care and hygiene to my daughter.
- Healthy nutrition.
For the entire year kids follow the same pattern of school and studies. Vacations are the only time they get to unwind and relax. However, at this time we need to plan for flu attacks too.
There is no doubt that the flu spreads more during winters. Schools and common public places like gardens and parks are where our kids are most vulnerable to flu attacks. I was recently reading a report in the newspaper on the flu outbreaks in India. The cold weather in winter makes it easy for the virus to infect and mutate rapidly. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so the influenza vaccination helps you to keep your family safe and you also get to stick to your plans for winter and after.
How Does Influenza Vaccine Protect Your Child from the Flu?
The most effective and safe way to STOP the flu is to get your child vaccinated with the flu shot (1). It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies to develop and protect against infection, and the effect will last your child for about a year.
The flu shot is safe and you can get it for your child from your paediatrician. Your child may feel mildly feverish for a day or two after the vaccination. Some kids even get a headache or feel lethargic. (4) But don’t worry, these side effects are rare and this soon wears off and your child is back to his bouncy self.
Remember that your child may still get flu even after getting vaccinated, because the influenza vaccine is like an umbrella of different strains. However, the severity of this flu will be lesser than its real form. As a mom, you will be thankful you got your children the flu shot if kids do happen to get sick!
WHO (2) recommends annual vaccination for –
- Children aged between 6 months to 5 years
- People older than 65 years
- Individuals with chronic medical conditions
- Health-care workers.
Developing Healthy Habits to Prevent the Flu
There is no doubt vaccination is the most effective and safest way to prevent the flu from affecting our plans with our family. But there are other ways you can safeguard yourself and your family. We need to adopt healthy habits, eat healthy food, maintain proper cleanliness, and follow basic hygiene (2). In our home we follow all the following tips to keep us healthy as much as possible:
- Stay indoors when we are sick – When my daughter is sick, I make her rest a lot and keep her indoors.
- Maintain a safe distance – When I know someone is sick, I try to stay away from them. By maintaining this distance from people who show the signs and symptoms of suffering from the cold, cough, running nose, etc., we avoid frequent sickness.
- Cover your mouth and nose – I have taught my child to cover her mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing. This is important as the flu virus spreads easily through the air and from our saliva, breath, and phlegm.
- Wash your hands properly – I ask my daughter to wash her hands before and after eating. I have also taught her to do this after a handshake or after touching common surfaces like railings as well. We also keep well-medicated hand sanitizers handy.
- Keep hands off from mouth, nose, and eyes – I have taught my child to avoid touching her eyes, nose, mouth frequently as these are the most vulnerable areas where flu viruses can enter the body.
- Build-up immunity – When my daughter has a healthy body, she can combat any situation. I make her eat healthy and nutritious food for stronger immunity.
Prevention is better than cure and you can prevent flu with proper hygiene and taking influenza vaccine. If our family does get sick then with timely diagnosis, right treatment, and our already healthy lifestyle we don’t get too bogged down with illness.
We have got the influenza vaccine ticked off from our Winter To-do list. When are you getting an appointment with your doctor?
Stay healthy, stay safe.
#IPromiseToStopFlu for my child. You?
- Hampson AW. Vaccines for pandemic influenza: the history of our current vaccines, their limitations and the requirements to deal with a pandemic threat. Ann Acad Med Singapore 2008; 37: 510-7 pmid: 18618064.
- Flu fact sheet World Health Organization India: http://www.searo.who.int/india/topics/influenza/flu-fact-sheet-2019.pdf
- Single Best way to prevent flu: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm
- Flu vaccine safety information: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/general.htm
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