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  • The Safest Ways Your Kids Can Get The Flu Vaccine, According To A Doctor

    Setting foot inside the hospital does not automatically put your kids at risk for COVID-19.
    by Kitty Elicay .
The Safest Ways Your Kids Can Get The Flu Vaccine, According To A Doctor
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  • While it’s understandable for parents to worry about COVID-19, doctors are quick to remind that there are other vaccine-preventable diseases, like dengue, chickenpox, and measles, that deserve our equal attention. One crucial vaccine that we should not forget to give our children is the flu vaccine.

    Influenza, more commonly known as flu, is a respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. Its common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, a stuffy or runny nose, body aches, headache, and fatigue. Some children may also experience vomiting or diarrhea.

    While it is easy to dismiss this illness as mild, it is actually very contagious and can spread rapidly from person to person. More importantly, the prevalent strain of the flu virus changes from year to year, and some strains can hit harder than others — in 2018, at least 53 kids in the United States died of the flu in a span of four months.

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    In an online interview with SmartParenting.com.ph, Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, former president of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) and a fellow of the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS), shares one important reason why kids should not miss out on this yearly vaccine: it can cause unusual symptoms in young children.

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    “In children, the presentation [of flu] can include symptoms that are not typical, like diarrhea, a rash, or even seizures. Among those patients, when you have the opportunity to do a test for [the flu], you’ll be surprised that [it’s the flu virus] that caused the symptoms,” she tells Smart Parenting.

    The flu vaccine can be given annually to babies starting at six months. If your kids missed out on the flu vaccine last year, they can get one this year without complications. “The general recommendation across all the different age groups is you should receive the flu vaccine that appropriate for the current year and if you miss the previous year, there’s no problem. You should just receive what is due for this year and it will still give you protection,” Dr. Ong-Lim says.

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    Can the flu vaccine help prevent COVID-19?

    “We expect that flu vaccines should only protect against flu, not COVID-19,” says Dr. Ong-Lim. While other experts have previously said that the vaccine can help protect against the severe complications of the disease, Dr. Ong-Lim reiterates, “Walang studies na nag-po-prove or disprove ng ganung concept.”

    How can my kids safely get the flu vaccine?

    Because of the enhanced community quarantine, a lot of kids missed out on their scheduled vaccinations. But now that restrictions have been relaxed, Dr. Ong-Lim stresses the importance of talking to your child’s pediatrician so your kids can catch up with the vaccines that have been missed.

    If the thought of your kids getting COVID-19 is what’s stopping you from visiting your doctor or the health center, Dr. Ong-Lim lists down three ways to optimize your child’s safety while you are out for a checkup.

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    1. Set an appointment with your doctor.

    According to Dr. Ong-Lim, doctors now use an appointment system to minimize the waiting time and crowding in the doctor’s clinics. But setting foot inside the hospital does not automatically put you at risk for COVID-19.

    “Maybe isang concern ng parent ay, ‘Naku, kapag umapak ako sa ospital, baka mahawaan ako.’ That shows na hindi natin naiintidihan ‘yung mechanism of transmission, which is close contact and respiratory droplets. Kung ‘yung two factors na ‘yun ang iniiwasan natin, ang sagot dun is mag-a-appointment tayo para pagdating, ma-examine agad, ma-evaluate, mabakanuhan, uuwi,” Dr. Ong-Lim says.

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    2. Cocoon your child.

    The use of face masks and face shields is not recommended for children under 2 years old. Because of this, Dr. Ong-Lim says to think of the “cocoon concept” when going out with your child.

    “Dahil ‘yung baby ay hindi mo masuotan ng mask, dapat lahat ng nasa paligid niya na hindi niya kasama sa household ay naka-mask para hindi sila nahahawaan,” she explains.

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    She adds, “Kung alam natin na ang main driver for transmission is still [respiratory] droplets, then the way you protect the person who cannot wear a mask is to ensure that physical distancing is implemented. So ‘yung one meter, i-extend mo sa two meters dahil hindi naka-mask ‘yung bata.”

    3. Talk to your doctor about other alternatives.

    Some physicians have initiated drive-through vaccinations. According to Dr. Ong-Lim, this addresses the issue of physical distancing. “For as long as ‘yung critical components ng safe vaccination are being practiced, that can be an option.”

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    While catch-up vaccinations are possible, Dr. Ong-Lim says young children should still get their vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule.

    “Kung delay ka ng delay, dadami lang ‘yung kailangan mong habulin,” she explains. “We know that hindi naman lahat ng bakuna pwede mong ibigay together in one shot. So it becomes even more complicated to catch up the longer you delay the due doses.”

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    What vaccines will your child need from birth to 18 years old? Click here for the latest childhood immunization schedule.

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