How Do I Keep Children Away From the Flu?

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If you want your child to completely avoid the flu, you’ll have to put her in isolation for the duration of the flu season — even from family members who are allowed outside the home. Since flu season runs from fall to spring, this is impractical and not fair to your child. Still, you can significantly minimize her chances of getting the flu by taking some of the proper precautions and making every attempt to stay healthy.

Step 1

Vaccinate your child as soon as the year’s vaccination is available. The yearly vaccine typically becomes available in late summer or early fall. Call your child’s doctor’s office to learn when you can take him in for a vaccination.

Step 2

Keep an eye on the “flu map.” Each year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention creates a map highlighting the areas of the country where the flu is most prevalent. If you see that there are many cases in your state, you’ll know to be extra careful when going out.

Step 3

Make hand washing a family habit. People often transmit the flu through their hands. For example, a person will cough into her hand, then a few minutes later, shake hands with someone using the same hand. Washing your hands with antibacterial soap often — especially when you come in from outside — can get rid of the germs that can cause illness.

Step 4

Boost your child’s immune system with a multivitamin and extra vitamin C. Having all the vitamins she needs will help her body fight off any infections that do make her sick.

Step 5

Cancel play dates with sick friends. Runny noses are common during the winter months, but if a friend has anything more than a runny nose, you’ll want to keep your child away from him.

Step 6

Give each family member her own things. Germs pass when family members share items like eating utensils, washcloths or drinking glasses. For example, in the bathroom, each person should have her own toothbrush and cup for gargling.

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