Q: How can I protect my child from the flu?
A: If your child is in a high-risk group, schedule a flu vaccination. Children should be kept away from infected persons and avoid direct contact with contaminated areas, such as toys and tabletops. Frequent hand-washing is crucial, especially prior to eating. Provide hand sanitizer when your child is unable to wash.
Q: Are some children too young to be immunized?
A: The flu vaccine is not recommended for children under the age of 6 months.
Q: Can my child receive the flu vaccine in nasal spray form?
A: Children must be at least 5 years of age to receive the nasal spray vaccine.
Q: Will the flu vaccine make my child sick?
A: The vaccine will not make a person "catch" the flu; in some cases, there may be a local reaction, such as pain at the site of the injection. Children who receive the vaccine in nasal spray form may have a sore throat, stuffy nose and/or low-grade fever the day after vaccination. If your child is allergic to eggs or egg protein, visit an allergist to have your child desensitized.
Q: If my child has the flu, how long is he or she contagious?
A: A child with the flu is most contagious 24 hours after the onset of symptoms; however, the virus can spread as long as symptoms are present.
Q: What is the best way to treat the flu?
A: Encourage your child to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Provide light meals. You also may administer children's acetaminophen to lower fever above 102 degrees and relieve body aches. Do not give aspirin to a child who has the flu or who you suspect has the flu.
Q: How long does the flu last?
A: The typical course of infection is 7 to 10 days.
Q: Is there any way to shorten the duration of the flu?
A: If a child 1 year of age or older is diagnosed within 48 hours of flu onset, oral antiviral medicines, such as amantadine for influenza A and oseltamivir for types A and B, can lessen the severity of symptoms and shorten the duration of the flu. For children 7 years of age and older, inhaled zanamivir may be effective.
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