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Is your family protected against flu?

Is your family protected against flu?
PHOTO: Unsplash

You may be wondering why your child is always coming down with a cold. It is no secret that kids can be exposed to a lot of viruses and bacteria – children are constantly being exposed to new viruses all of the time, and earlier in the year, we saw record numbers of children being exposed to Covid-19 here in Singapore. 

Exposure to viruses is very important for the development of the immune system, and every time your toddler or baby gets sick, they develop antibodies in response to the illness that will go on to protect them from that virus in the future.

Take the Varicella virus, or chickenpox, as a common example of a virus that is much better to contract early in life than later in life – adults are 25 times more likely to die from chickenpox than children!  

Viruses are everywhere, no matter how much you clean and sanitise. It’s why most babies and toddlers can come down with 12 colds or cases of flu a year – but during Covid-19, these rates have been much lower because of heightened restrictions.

You may be wondering what to expect for your child on the respiratory disease front now that Singapore has rolled back almost all of its Covid-19 rules, and I’m here to let you know to be prepared in case of a rebound in the flu. 

Is your child protected from flu in Singapore?

When children are in close contact with one another, the likelihood of them contracting a virus like the flu increases. This is a normal part of childhood, but during the last two years, children have been shielded from infectious diseases due to strict curbs on socialising. 

Most of the time, children bounce back quite quickly from the flu, but, in some instances, a child can come down with nasty flu with symptoms persisting for a while, or, they could go on to infect other household members.

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With children being able to intermingle freely with others due to the recent change in rules announced by the MTF, you may be unprepared for what the viruses in circulation have in store for your little one! 

And, data shows that cases of acute respiratory infections in Singapore are creeping back up to pre-pandemic times. 

However, there are steps you can take to ensure your child, and your household members, remain protected against the flu.

How to protect your family from flu in Singapore

So how do I keep my child and family members safe from the flu now the holidays are approaching, and when my kids are having lots of playdates like they did before Covid-19?  

Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate! If your child is between the ages of five months and  years old, the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule recommends influenza vaccination every year. If they are over the age of 6 but have a pre-existing health condition, your child should also be having annual flu vaccinations.

And, if you’re a parent, you too should have the vaccine. By getting your flu jab done, not only are you protecting yourself, but you are protecting the health of your child and your other family members who may be elderly. You should encourage your elderly family members to roll up their sleeves and book an appointment at their nearest clinic.

Remember that when a household is vaccinated against the flu, a sick child can do little harm because all family member’s immune systems are well prepared. 

ALSO READ: How dangerous is ‘flurona’ – a Covid-19 and seasonal influenza infection – as Omicron spreads?

So if I am vaccinated against the flu, and my child brings home a flu infection, I won’t get really sick? 

Yes! Flu vaccination, much like a vaccination against Covid-19, protects against severe illness from the flu.

If your child is ineligible for flu vaccination but brings home a flu infection, there are lots of things you can do to help your child recover at home:

  1. Don’t give your child antibiotics – they only work for bacterial infections and not for flu or colds. Stick to Over the Counter (OTC) treatments and don’t self-medicate. 
  2. Make sure your child has plenty of liquids to drink 
  3. Give OTC paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce fever 
  4. Encourage your child to rest and put down the toys 
  5. If symptoms persist after one week or fever worsens, seek your GP’s advice.

It’s never too late to go for your annual flu vaccination to protect against the flu, recommended on Singapore’s National Adult and Children Immunisation Schedules.

The flu is not necessarily a mild infection, especially for seniors, pregnant women, young children below the age of five or people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes. And remember, if you have elderly parents living at home, not only should you get vaccinated, but so should they! 

This article was first published in theAsianparent.

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