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Children's Flu Risk

Every year, about 12,000 Canadians are hospitalized due to the flu. What can be even more concerning is that children are at higher risk of getting the flu than adults.

As a parent, you do all you can to protect your child, but regardless, they can still get the flu. And young children under 5 years old are at higher risk of complications related to the flu or of being hospitalized. Complications include pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infection, ear infection, and worsening of existing medical conditions.

Your child may be at risk of flu – at school, in daycare, and at home. Take these steps to help protect your child from the flu.

At school

School is a place your child learns, has fun, and makes friends. Unfortunately, it is also a place where viruses, including the influenza virus, can spread, putting your child at risk.

Teach your child to:

  • wash their hands frequently with soap and warm water, and to count to 20 while washing their hands. They can sing the song "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" once slowly. You won't be there to keep an eye on them, but make sure your child understands the importance of washing their hands every time after they use the washroom, before they eat, and after touching tables and counters (such as if they worked on an arts and craft project). Also tell them to wash their hands after coming in from recess.
  • cough and sneeze into their arm, not their hand. If a tissue is available, they should use the tissue and throw it in the garbage immediately and go to the washroom to wash their hands.
  • avoid sharing personal items, including food and drinks, stationary items and toys.

In addition, ask your child's school about:

  • the school's plans in case there is a flu outbreak.
  • the school's cleaning policies. Ensure they clean frequently touched objects and surfaces regularly and that they have a good supply of tissues, soap, and paper towels on site.
  • how students and staff who come down with the flu are separated from others and who will take care of them until they can go home.

In daycare

Follow the same tips as those for your child's school. Be aware that children who are in daycare are often younger than school-aged children and are therefore at higher risk for serious complications from the flu. Children under 5 years old, especially if they are less than 2 years old, are considered at high risk for complications and severe infection, such as pneumonia, ear infections, and being hospitalized.

At home

You may have more control over what goes on around your house than what's happening at school or daycare, so take charge.

  • Follow the same hand-washing and cough-and-sneeze etiquette mentioned above.
  • Clean and disinfect toys regularly.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas of the house that can be contaminated with the flu virus: doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, telephones, keyboards, countertops, table tops, stairway rails.
  • If other people in the house have the flu, keep them in a separate room so they do not infect others. Talk to your doctor about ways to help prevent the flu infection if someone in the house is infected with the flu.

If your child does get the flu, contact your doctor as soon as symptoms appear to find out if your child should be examined. Antiviral medication is available to help reduce symptoms and complications if the infection is severe or if they are at a high risk of a severe infection. It is important to start antiviral medications as soon as possible if they are prescribed.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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