Flu is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. We asked Dr Richard Pebody, head of respiratory viruses and influenza, at Public Health England to share his top five tips on prevention.
Make sure your children get their free flu vaccine
Flu can be a horrible illness for young children – children aged 2 -3 and those in school years reception, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 get the flu vaccine in the form of a free simple nasal spray – so no need for needles!
Children aged 2-3 need to get the vaccine from their GP while those in school years 1 -5 can get the vaccine from their school. So, parents – keep an eye out for the consent form from your child’s school.
Children are what we term ‘super spreaders’ so giving them the vaccine not only protects them, but also protects vulnerable people around them from becoming unwell.
If you’re pregnant also make sure you get the vaccine
Pregnant women are advised to have the injectable flu vaccine, regardless of the stage of pregnancy. If you’re pregnant, you will benefit from the flu vaccine because:
- it reduces your risk of having a miscarriage, or your baby being born prematurely or with a low birthweight because of flu
- it reduces your chance of getting serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy
- it will help protect your baby as they will continue to have some immunity to flu for the first few months of their life
Avoid people who are sick
This seems obvious, but it might be necessary to keep members who become sick with flu away from others at home to avoid spreading the illness, especially to young children.
Wash hands frequently
Your child is exposed to bacteria and viruses daily at daycare, school and at home. Whether it’s through a toy or something just as insignificant as that, exposure to viruses can happen quickly. The best defence is simply using soap and warm water to disinfect hands after playing outside, before meals and snacks and after bathroom visits.
Carry tissues and use them to catch coughs or sneezes, bin the used tissues as soon as possible and then wash your hands and kill the germs.
For more information visit the NHS website.