Babies and young children are vulnerable to getting the influenza (flu) virus, especially as the weather gets colder ahead of winter. With the prevalence of flu viruses expected to be higher this season according to health experts, it is important to take extra precautions to keep your little ones safe.
Lizeth Kruger, Dis-Chem Baby City’s national clinic executive says that while lockdowns and mask-wearing measures taken during the Covid-19 pandemic were effective in slowing the spread of Covid-19, they also limited exposure to other common viruses, including the flu, resulting in fewer flu infections.
“Chilly weather heralds the start of the cold and flu season. This flu season we need to take extra care and be proactive in protecting our families given how flu can spread rapidly among toddlers and young children at school,” she said.
Lizeth shares five simple steps to help minimise the risk of babies and children catching flu.
1. Get a flu vaccine: Getting your child vaccinated is one of the best ways to protect them from the flu. Flu vaccines can now be administered to babies as young as six months. Talk to your healthcare provider. The flu vaccine is important for children and adults alike. The flu virus mutates each year and immune responses wane over time. The flu vaccine is designed to protect against the most common strains of the flu virus, making it a highly effective preventative measure.
2. Keep a clean nose and wash your hands: Teach good hygiene habits. One of the most effective and underutilised ways to keep flu viruses at bay is by keeping your nose clean. Nasal passages are a gateway for viruses to enter the body. Simple measures such as teaching your children to wash their hands regularly and cleaning their nasal passages by blowing their noses and rinsing with a saline solution (with your assistance) will help them prevent the spread of viruses.
3. Give them vitamins: Giving children vitamins C and D as part of their regular health routine helps to boost their immune systems. Vitamin C is known for its immune-boosting properties, while vitamin D helps regulate your immune system. Incorporating foods rich in these vitamins into your diet – such as citrus fruits and leafy greens – also helps to keep the immune system strong.
4. Disinfect toys and other shared objects: Toys and other shared objects can be breeding grounds for germs. Disinfect them regularly to help prevent the spread of the flu virus.
5. Keep your child at home if they are sick: Schools are notorious breeding grounds for the transmission of colds and flu. If your child is showing symptoms of the flu, such as a fever or cough, keep them home from school or nursery school. This will help prevent the spread of the virus to other children and adults.