Flu Season Is Coming
Let’s talk about a virus that we are all familiar with that will be making its rounds again this winter. No, not COVID-19 or its Delta variant, but rather influenza (flu) virus.
Flu may seem like a distant virus of the past for the last couple of years, but it’s important that we vaccinate against this virus.
Flu vaccination has been widely available in the United States since 1945 and is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicine. Flu vaccine effectiveness can vary according to season, age, and health status but getting vaccinated each year still reduces the risk of severe flu-related illness. Severe complications from the flu are far more likely than severe flu vaccine side effects. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated each flu season. Children 6
months through 8 years of age will need 2 doses during the initial flu season in which they are vaccinated, then 1 flu shot annually after. Everyone else 9 years and older needs only 1 dose each flu season. The flu vaccine does not cause the flu and can be given at the same time as other vaccines.
Masks For Our Health
We may be tired of wearing masks, but masking reduces the chance of spreading COVID-19, which a child may have without symptoms, as well as flu. CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend masks for children 2 and older. Children under 2 should not mask due to suffocation risk, and a child unable to remove a face mask on their own should not wear one.
The new Washington state mask mandate requires children over 5 to wear masks indoors and outdoors in crowded events regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status and strongly recommends but does not require, children ages 3–4 to wear a mask with parental help & supervision.
How To Explain Masks To Children
For children under 3, explain that sometimes people need to wear masks to stay healthy. For children over 3, focus on germs. Some germs are good and some are bad, and bad germs can make you sick. We can’t always tell which germs are which, so masks help keep germs away from us and other people.
Tips For Masking Children
- Place the mask securely over the mouth and nose and stretch it from ear to ear.
- It should fit snugly along the sides of the face without any gaps.
- Wash hands before and after wearing a mask and avoid touching a mask once it is on.
- Avoid touching the front of the mask by taking it off from behind the ear straps.
- Make sure the mask has no choking or strangulation hazards for young children.
- Children with weakened immune systems that put them at high risk for infections are encouraged to wear an N95 mask for protection.
- It may be challenging for younger children not to fidget or play with their masks, so expect to give your child plenty of gentle reminders.
- Mask a favorite stuffed animal, draw one on a book character, or decorate masks for fun.