Although COVID-19 is currently the hottest topic of conversation among Americans and around the world, there is another seasonal illness we don’t want you or your family forgetting about called influenza or “the flu.”
Children, adolescents, and young adults that have a neurological diagnosis or are immunocompromised have a much higher chance of becoming very ill after contracting the flu in comparison to individuals of their same age. Flu complications may vary and for some children, can include pneumonia and even death. It is important for parents and caregivers of immunocompromised children and adolescents to be diligent about precautions and prepared for each flu season.
What precautions and preparations can you and your family take?
Here are some things you can do to rid yourself and your family of the flu:
- Get vaccinated, the flu shot works!
- Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, with soap and warm water. This can be accomplished by humming “Happy Birthday” to oneself two times in a row while washing your hands.
- If you don’t have access to a sink, use hand sanitizer with an alcohol concentration of at least 60%.
- Regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces in your home, these include doorknobs, light switches, sink handles, and counters/tables
- Disinfect cell phones and any tablets or game controllers that your children use regularly
- Ensure your family is covering their mouth when coughing or sneezing by coughing/sneezing into their elbows
- Keep away from others who are experiencing flulike symptoms.
If your child has symptoms of the flu, call your primary health care provider immediately!
Rapid diagnostic testing is important because if the test is positive, starting an antiviral medication is recommended and should be started as soon as possible and taken according to your child’s physician’s instructions. It is best if this medication is started within 48 hours of your first symptom, but the treatment can still have some benefit if started later, especially for patients who are experiencing a longer or more complicated course.