Protecting kids against the flu

Published: Jan. 23, 2018 at 6:34 AM CST
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The Iowa Department of Public Health says the flu has led to at least 29 deaths since October.

That's up from just two weeks ago when 14 deaths had been reported.

Doctors are saying this is one of the worst flu seasons in years with severe flu activity reported across the United States.

According to the CDC, at least 30 children have died from the flu across the country.

No children have died from the flu in Iowa this season -- but doctors say they've seen an increase of younger patients coming into hospitals.

That's why they want parents to know about some simple tips that can help protect your child against the flu.

1. Teaching kids to wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.

2. Having children cough or sneeze into the arm or shirt sleeve.

3. If your child does get sick, keep them at home.

4. Make sure you are washing hotbeds for germs like bathroom towels, gloves, hats, and toys.

The flu virus can live on these surfaces for up to 8 hours.

Tenisha Lambert is a mother of three and she runs a daycare in Cedar Rapids.

She's constantly surrounded by kids, but two weeks ago she noticed her 6-year-old son Jayce wasn't feeling well.

She thought maybe he caught a cold, but then her 4-year-old son, Jaxton developed the same symptoms, only this time he fainted at church.

"When Jaxton began to faint at church and I'm like okay this is not my baby and his fever was up to 103, his cheeks were bloodshot red and he was just like passing out, just knowing a mother having that fear of kids not being able to stay awake then I knew it was time to go," Lambert said.

She took her sons to the emergency room.

Jaxton already suffers from respiratory issues and needed a breathing tube.

Both her kids stayed home from school for 4 days.

Tenisha tells us she also had to shut down her daycare for four days while her kids got better.

A person with the flu can spread it to another person up to 6 feet away

and when it comes to kids, they like to touch their face, touch their toys, and play with other kids so the virus can spread quickly.

It's not always easy to tell if a child has the flu but some symptoms to look out for include high fever, chills, extreme tiredness, sore throat, vomiting, and stomach pain.

Doctors say the flu can be particularly dangerous to younger children.

"Influenza can be very dangerous, especially for our more vulnerable children. The very young, or the children who have other illnesses, asthma, cancers and other types of conditions that make it hard to fight off infections especially children who are vulnerable to dehydration," Dr. Dinah Conti, a pediatrician with UnityPoint Health said.

Doctors say for children who become dehydrated can experience their fever going up, but when it doesn't come back down that could be a sign to seek medical help.

Two weeks ago the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 17 Iowa schools saw more than 10 percent of their students absent due to illness.

Doctors are still encouraging parents to get the flu shot for their kids if they are six months or older.

They recommend children get a vaccine every year and they say it's not too late now to get the flu shot.