2007-11-08 / News

Flu shots protect young children

The flu is more serious than a common cold, but flu shots can help keep your family safe. Plain and simple.

In fact, influenza is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths for kids, but despite recommendations from health experts, many parents still don't have their children vaccinated.

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows only a small fraction of the children who need to get a flu vaccination actually get one, despite the CDC recommendations that all children 6 months to 5 years old should get vaccinated.

Indeed, a recent survey by the Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) found almost half of moms of children under 5 do not get their kids vaccinated every year.

It is estimated that each year in the United States, more than 20,000 children less than 5 years old are hospitalized due to the flu, and children less than 2 years old are even more likely to be hospitalized by the flu.

According to the survey:

* More than 75 percent of moms of children under 5 don't get their whole family vaccinated against the flu. Many moms nix the needle because they don't have time or their children are too afraid.

* The majority of moms say they are not very concerned about their child developing serious flu complications.

* Only 2 percent of moms are concerned about a member of their family catching the flu at home.

* Forty-three percent of moms say their approach to the flu season is to "let nature take its course."

Remember, children can be at high risk for health complications due to the flu. And with just one sick family member at home, more than 60 percent of household surfaces can harbor the flu virus, making it important to disinfect germ hot spots.

So, while vaccination is the first step in flu prevention for most young children, parents should also take these simple steps at home:

* Disinfect Hot Spots: Kids can touch up to 300 surfaces in 30 minutes, so be sure to disinfect the surfaces kids touch most frequently -- like doorknobs, light switches, faucets or plastic toys. Use a disinfectant designed to kill cold and flu viruses.

* Do the Elbow Cough: Teach kids to cough into elbows, not hands where they're more likely to spread bacteria and viruses through touch.

For more flu fighting tips, visit www.familiesfightingflu.org.

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