Tips to protect your kids from the flu this winter

In the winter, when kids are cooped up indoors at home and school, it’s easier for them to catch and spread viruses like the flu.

For children under five who get the flu, complications can include pneumonia, ear infections and dehydration, which can result in a trip to the hospital, or even death in rare cases.

Help protect your kids with these tips:

Get the shot. It’s your best defence. The flu shot helps children build up their immunity so they’re better able to fight off the infection. In Ontario, children between the age of two to 17 can get the flu vaccine as an injection or a nasal spray.

Coughing and sneezing etiquette. Germs are spread through the air. That’s why it’s important to teach kids to cover their mouths and cough or sneeze into a tissue or their sleeves to stop germs from spreading.

Keep hands and shared objects clean. Washing with soap and water (or hand sanitizer) for at least 15 seconds helps prevent the virus from spreading, as it can live on hands for up to three hours. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and shared objects like countertops, keyboards and toys help prevent germs from spreading.

Eat healthy and exercise. The healthier kids are, the better they’re able to fight off infections like the flu. This means ensuring they are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and getting enough exercise.

Stay at home when sick. Viruses spread more easily in public settings like schools and businesses. If your child is sick, it’s best to keep them at home.

The vaccine is free for all children in Ontario six months of age and older. Getting the flu vaccine has never been easier — simply head to your healthcare provider’s office or a local public health unit. Children over the age of five can also get the flu vaccine at a participating pharmacy.

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