Tips for protecting young children against the flu.
Every year, thousands of children spend time in the hospital after becoming sick with the flu virus. One way to help prevent flu viruses from dampening your seasonal fun, is to get your family vaccinated. The CDC recommends that everyone aged six months and older get a yearly flu vaccine.
Children younger than six months are at highest risk.
Babies younger than six months are at high risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because vaccines are not approved for babies younger than six months old, protecting them from the virus is very important. The advice below can help parents, family and friends, care providers and babysitters protect them from the flu.
There are some things caregivers of young children can do to help protect them:
- A yearly flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect against the flu.
- The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, trips to the hospital and death in children.
- If your child is six months or older, they should get a flu vaccine each year.
- By getting vaccinated, you will be less likely to get the flu and therefore less likely to spread the flu to a child.
Ask your care provider: “Did you get a flu vaccine this year?”
Prevent spreading germs.
- Keep yourself and your little ones away from people who are sick as much as you can.
- If you think you are experiencing flu symptoms, avoid being around other people when possible.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away after you use it, and wash your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you are not near water, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs often spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched areas, like door handles, phones and counters. Especially when someone is ill.
Are you caring for a little one sick with the flu?
Flu symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Young kids may also have vomiting or diarrhea with flu symptoms. Sometimes, people who have the flu don’t have a fever.
Young kids under five years of age are especially at high risk of serious flu-related complications.
Remember how the flu spreads.
Flu viruses spread mainly by the tiny drops made when people cough or sneeze. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. People with flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away. Sometimes a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
Keep an eye on the symptoms.
Pay close attention for signs of respiratory illness. If your child develops a fever, has shallow, slow or rapid breathing, or is less responsive than normal, contact your child’s doctor.
- More information about the safety of flu vaccines is available at Influenza Vaccine Safety.
- Find a place to get the vaccine near you.
Build Your Child’s Brighter Future!
Want to dive deeper into the health your little one? Check out our Play and Learning guidance about Physical Health and Growth for:
- Babies —Your baby is exploring with all five senses and figuring out both her big and small muscles work.
- One-year-olds — She’s developing a sense of independence – with the fine and gross motor skills to match!
- Two-year-olds — When you take your toddler for a check-up, he’s learning all about the importance of good health and self-care.
- Three-year-olds — Your child is growing into a taller, bigger, stronger body that can do more new things every day.
- Pre-K learners — At this point she can handle (somewhat) delicate tasks, such as tying a knot.