The swine flu scare is not over. Although the outbreak of last Spring has passed, public health officials expect another outbreak this Fall, especially with large numbers of children going back to school. Children older than six months and young adults up to 24 are in one of the highest risk brackets for catching swine flu. Here are some tips for protecting your child from swine flu.
. Know the symptoms. Swine flu symptoms are similar to those of a seasonal flu: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also have diarrhea and vomiting. If your child exhibits these symptoms, get him or her to a doctor right away. If your child has a playmate who exhibits these symptoms, try to minimize contact as much as possible.
. Tell children to wash their hands frequently. This is the number one recommendation for preventing the spread of swine flu. Children’s hands are full of germs, and swine flu is spread by contact. To counteract this, they need to wash their hands frequently during the day. Every child should have a small bottle of antibacterial hand sanitizer to keep in his or her desk at school.
. Teach your kids to stay away from children who are sneezing or coughing. This is a hard one, because children are sociable, and they congregate in groups naturally. Hopefully, parents will keep a child home from school if he or she is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, but in cases where a child comes to school and is sneezing or coughing, other children should give him or her a wide berth. You may also want to tell your child to ask the teacher to send a sick classmate to the school nurse for evaluation.
. Get a vaccination. Pharmaceutical companies are working overtime to develop swine flu vaccine, and it is expected to be available very soon. If your doctor, clinic, or hospital offers swine flu vaccinations, make sure you and your children are vaccinated.
There is no surefire way to protect your children against swine flu, but by following these simple steps you’ll minimize the chance that they’ll catch this serious illness.