As the 2018-2019 flu season approaches, it’s important to take action now to keep your family healthy. The flu can be a very serious illness. During the 2017-2018 flu season, 10 children lost their lives to the flu in Tennessee. During the first few weeks of 2018, flu was widespread in Tennessee.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your children. The Tennessee Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend a yearly flu shot for everyone who is six months old and older. You can get the flu shot from your doctor, a pharmacy or your county health department.
Young children and infants and children with chronic health conditions are considered to be high risk for getting severe complications from the flu. The flu virus is highly contagious, so it’s important for people who are sick to stay home and make every effort to avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after their symptoms have resolved to help prevent the illness from spreading. This includes staying away from work, school and other public places while ill.
During the peak of flu season many doctors and hospitals will encourage families and patients not to come into the emergency room unless their symptoms are serious. Here are some warning signs to look out for when an emergency room visit is necessary:
• Fast or troubled breathing
• Confusion, not waking up or not interacting
• Severe or continuous vomiting
• Not drinking enough fluids
If you're part of a high-risk group which includes babies, children under 2 years old, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions, give your doctor a call first and they'll be able to help.
The following are tips to protect your family and others from the flu.
• Cough into your elbow or a tissue instead of your hands
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub
• Routine cleaning and disinfection in the home and workplace are important to reduce flu risks
Get Free Vaccinations
The state can help make flu shots easier to afford through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. VFC helps families of children who may not otherwise be able to get vaccines by providing free vaccines to doctors who serve them. Find out if you’re eligible for this program.
For more information on the flu vaccine and to locate vaccine providers in your area, visit the Tennessee Department of Health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics discusses which flu vaccine children should get this year here.
CDC’s information on the flu can be found here.