Influenza (also known as flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. Flu is different from a cold, and more often than not appears suddenly. Each year flu viruses cause millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospital admissions and in some rare cases turns fatal.
Flu can be very dangerous for children. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in a developed country like the United States have recorded between 6,000 and 26,000 children younger than 5 years have been hospitalized each year because of influenza. This number is predicted to be much higher in a densely populated country such as India, where the disease is not always reported or recorded. The flu vaccine is safe and helps protect children from flu.
How serious is flu?
While flu illness can vary from mild to severe, children often need medical care because of flu. Children younger than 5 years and children of any age with certain long-term health problems are at high risk of flu complications like pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections.
How does flu spread?
Flu viruses are thought to spread by droplets released in the air when someone with flu coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. A person also can get flu by touching something that has flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, eyes, or nose.
What are flu symptoms?
Flu symptoms can include but not restricted to fever, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, feeling tired and sometimes vomiting and diarrohea. Some people with the flu may not have a fever and have differing symptoms.
The first and best way for parents to protect against flu is to get a yearly flu vaccine for themselves and their child.
Flu vaccination is usually recommended for everyone 6 months and older every year.
The Flu vaccine is more important for young children and children with certain long-term health problems.
Flu viruses are constantly evolving and so flu vaccines are updated annually to protect against the flu viruses that research indicates are most likely to cause illness during the upcoming flu season.