December 3, 2019

Preventing the Flu with Young Children

Did you know that “children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years old and children with chronic health conditions, are at a greater risk for serious flu complications?” If so, you probably know how important it is to understand the signs and symptoms of influenza (flu), as the infection can cause “mild to severe illness, pneumonia, and other complications.” To best care for your young child this flu season, consider implementing the following best practices provided by

What is the flu? states that the flu “is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by the influenza virus.” As caregivers of young children, it’s important to catch flu symptoms early and implement proper treatment. While most people will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, some individuals, especially young children, have an increased risk of flu-related complications, some of which may result in hospital stays or could be life-threatening. Some complications include pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections.

Flu Symptoms

If your child has the flu, they may exhibit some of the following symptoms:

    • fever
    • cough
    • sore throat
    • runny or stuffy nose
    • body aches
    • headache
    • chills
    • fatigue
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea

Please note that “some people sick with the flu may not have a fever.”

Best Practices to Avoid the Flu

To protect your child against the flu, consider implementing the following best practices:

    • Make sure your child (age six months or older) receives a flu vaccine every year. This is the most important thing you can do to protect your child against the virus. Children younger than six months are at a high risk of serious flu illness, however, they are too young to be vaccinated. Because of this, caregivers of the young child should be vaccinated instead in order to protect them. For pregnant individuals, receiving a vaccination while pregnant is encouraged, as “the antibody produced in response to the vaccine also offers protection to the developing baby.” Talk with your doctor to discuss the flu vaccine and how many doses are recommended for you and your child.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Wash hands often with soap and running water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if water and soap are unavailable.
    • Encourage your child to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth and encourage them to use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze into.
    • Keep surfaces in the house and toys clean using household disinfectants according to the directions on the product label.
    • Have a plan in case your child becomes sick with the flu.

What to Do if Your Child is Sick

If your child is exhibiting flu-like symptoms,

    • call or take your child to the doctor;
    • keep your child at home until they no longer have a fever for at least 24 hours and are feeling like themselves (excluding doctor visits);
    • make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated;
    • ask your doctor about fever-reducing medicines if such medicines are necessary;
    • keep your child in a separate room (sick room) in the house and limit as much contact as possible with other members of the household who are not sick;
    • make one person in the house the main caregiver of the sick child;
    • and, if possible, avoid having a pregnant person as the main caregiver of the sick child.

A child should not go back to school, pre-kindergarten, or their child care program until their fever (101° F/38.3° C or greater) has been gone for at least 24 hours without the assistance of fever-reducing medicines. With this, it’s recommended to ask your child’s school or child care provider what their plan is for the flu season. Let them know if your child is at high-risk for flu-related problems.

More Information

For more information on prevention and best practices, visit

*Information provided by

To learn more about Trying Together, visit our home page.