An annual flu shot is recommended for all children 6 months and older every flu season. Children 6 months through 8 years of age may need two doses during the same flu season. Everyone else needs only one dose each flu season.
What is the flu?
The flu is a viral infection of the nose, throat, trachea and bronchi that occurs in epidemics every three or four years (for example, Asian influenza). The main symptoms are a stuffy nose, sore throat and nagging cough. There may be more muscle pain, headache, fever and chills than colds usually cause.
How can I take care of my child?
The treatment of flu depends on a child’s main symptoms and is no different from the treatment for other viral respiratory infections.
Fever or aches
Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) every six hours or ibuprofen (Advil) every eight hours for fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius). Children and adolescents who may have influenza should never take aspirin because it may cause Reye’s Syndrome.
Cough or hoarseness
For children over age 4, give cough drops. If your child is 1 to 4 years old, give corn syrup (1/2 to 1 teaspoon as needed).
Use hard candy for children over 4 years old. Warm chicken broth may also help children over 1 year old.
Warm water or saline nosedrops and suction (or nose blowing) will open most blocked noses. Use nasal washes at least four times a day whenever your child can’t breathe through the nose. Saline nosedrops are made by adding 1/4 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of warm water.
Influenza spreads rapidly because the incubation period is only 24 to 36 hours, and the virus is very contagious. Your child may return to day care or school after the fever is gone, and he/she feels up to it.
When should I call my child’s health care provider?
Your child is having difficulty breathing.
Your child starts to act very sick.
Your child develops any complications such as an earache, sinus pain or pressure or a fever lasting over three days.
You have other questions or concerns.