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nearby. Less often, a person might get the flu
by touching something that has flu virus on it
and then touching their own mouth, eyes or
nose. What are the symptoms of flu?
Symptoms of flu can include fever, cough, sore
throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, head-
ache, chills, fatigue and sometimes vomiting
and diarrhea. Some people with flu will not
have a fever. How long can a sick person spread the flu?
People with the flu may infect others from 1 day
before getting sick to 5-7 days after. Children
The Flu: and people with weakened immune systems
can shed virus for longer, and might still be contagious past 7 days, especially if they still have symptoms.
Can my child go to school, daycare or camp
if he or she is sick?
No. Your child should stay home to rest and to
avoid giving the flu to other children or to caregivers.
What is the flu?
Influenza (the flu) is an infection of the nose,
When can my child go back to school after
throat and lungs caused by influenza viruses
having the flu?
that are constantly changing. Flu causes
Keep your child home until at least 24 hours
illness, hospital stays and deaths in the United
after their fever is gone, without using fever-
States each year. Flu can be very dangerous
reducing medications, like acetaminophen
for children. Each year about 20,000 children
(Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil). A fever
younger than 5 years old are hospitalized from
is defined as 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.
flu complications, like pneumonia. How serious is the flu?
Flu illness can vary from mild to severe. Flu can How can I protect my child against flu?
be especially dangerous for young children and
The first and most important thing to do is to get
children of any age who have certain long term
flu vaccine for your child, yourself, and everyone
health conditions, including asthma (even mild
else in your household every year
. Get the
or controlled), neurological conditions, chronic
lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders,
endocrine disorders (such as diabetes), and
• Vaccination is recommended for everyone 6
weakened immune systems due to disease or
medication. Children with these conditions, and • It’s especially important that young children and those receiving long-term aspirin therapy, can
children with certain health conditions (see at left) get vaccinated.
• It’s very important for parents, grandparents,
teachers and caregivers to get vaccinated.
How does the flu spread?
• Everyone caring for infants under 6 months (who
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread
are too young to be vaccinated) should be
mainly by droplets made when people with the
vaccinated if possible. Vaccinating pregnant
flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can
women can offer some protection to the baby
land in the mouths or noses of people who are
About flu vaccine What kinds of flu vaccine are there?
Is influenza vaccine effective?
Yes. While no vaccine is 100% effective,
influenza vaccine is the best protection against
• Inactivated (killed) flu vaccine, the “flu
shot,” is given by injection with a needle.
• Live, attenuated (weakened) flu vaccine is
Influenza vaccine tends to be most effective in
people who are younger and healthy. It takes
about two weeks after vaccination to protect
The kind of vaccine your child will get depends
against flu, so vaccination does not protect
on their age and health. You child may be
immediately. Also, flu viruses are always
eligible to receive either kind of flu vaccine.
changing, so the vaccine needs to be updated
every year, before flu season starts. When the
Every time your child receives vaccine, your
vaccine isn’t a good match with flu viruses that
healthcare provider will ask questions which
are circulating, it offers less protection.
will help determine whether the child should
receive vaccine that day, and what kind of
People who get flu vaccine are much less
likely to get the flu than those who don’t get
vaccine, and if vaccinated people get sick
Are there any risks from flu vaccine?
with the flu their illness is not as severe.
Vaccine reactions, if they occur, are usually mild and can include soreness, redness and
swelling where the shot is given, or runny nose after getting the nasal spray. Some
What else can I do to protect my child?
people have experienced fever, body aches,
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
Throw the tissue in the trash after use.
usually begin soon after the vaccine is given,
• Wash hands often with soap and water.
• Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and
A vaccine, like any medicine, could possibly
cause more serious problems, such as severe
• Contact your healthcare provider if your
allergic reactions. The risk of a vaccine
child gets sick, especially if the child is very
causing serious harm is extremely small.
Life threatening allergic reactions from vac-
cines are very rare. If they do occur, it is
• Seek emergency care if your child has
usually within a few minutes to a few hours
trouble breathing, fast breathing, turns
bluish or gray, has severe or persistent
vomiting, has trouble waking up, or doesn’t
More detailed information about flu vaccine is
available at www.immunize.org/vis. At this site Much more information is available at:
you will find Vaccine Information Statements
about inactivated and live influenza vaccines
(the shot and the nasal spray) designed to
• www.immunize.org • Or call 617-983-6800 or your
Adapted from CDC and developed as per legal requirements pursuant to An Act Relative to Annual Immunization Against Influenza for Children, MGL Chapter 111, Section 229, Amended 2012. Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 2013
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