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Flu Safety For Kids

kids flu

Young children are at a higher risk of developing more severe cases of flu and complications can include pneumonia, dehydration, sinus infections and even death. Families can prepare by getting a flu shot, following infection prevention protocols and by keeping kids home when they get sick.

Thomas Murray, MD, Associate Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, answered some frequently asked questions about flu season.

Is it safe for kids to get the flu shot?

Yes, it’s safe for kids to get the flu shot. 

Should all kids get the flu shot?

Any child older than 6 months should get the flu shot. The only reason why a child shouldn’t get the shot is if they’ve had a previous allergy to a flu shot.

Common flu symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, cough, congestion, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. A flu test can confirm if your child has the flu, and your pediatrician can prescribe antiviral medications.

How do flu symptoms differ from COVID-19 symptoms?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell the difference between COVID-19 symptoms and flu symptoms. Nearly all the typical flu symptoms can be present with COVID-19. One main difference is if a child experiences the loss of taste or smell. That’s an indicator they may have COVID-19.

If your child is developing symptoms, contact your pediatrician right away. A COVID-19 or test can confirm if your child has either illness, and if they’re positive for either one, they will need to stay home until they are feeling better and for COVID-19 isolation is no longer required. 

When should a child go to the Emergency Department?

Take your child to the Emergency Department if they are having difficulty breathing, if their lips turn blue, if they experience chest pain or seizures, if they’re not alert when they’re awake or have a high fever that doesn’t improve with over-the-counter fever reducers.

Dehydration is another common reason to bring a child to the hospital. If your child is vomiting frequently, or they’re not urinating as frequently as they should, they may be dehydrated.

My child already got a flu shot. What else can I do?

Proper infection prevention measures are an important tool in reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, including flu. Frequent hand washing and the cleaning of high touch surfaces such as doorknobs and shared toys can keep surfaces from being contaminated. Children should cough into a tissue and dispose of it immediately if they are able. Keep your child away from other children with cough, runny nose, and/or fever. If your child is sick, they need to stay home and stay away from other children until your child is feeling better.