I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Genentech to write about the signs, symptoms and treatments available for pediatric influenza. All opinions are my own.
As the seasons begin to change and we all start to gear up for our first full winter with COVID-19, pretty much everyone is talking about the flu and COVID-19 are going to impact each other.
The CDC says the flu season starts to pick up in October and tends to peak sometime between December and February though cases can continue to appear through May each year.
As a mom to an asthma sufferer, I am annually concerned about my child contracting the flu.
We always get the flu shot, but the season is dreadful for us even if he doesn’t contract the actual flu. I can’t even tell you how many days of school my son misses every winter due to influenza and other upper respiratory infections.
With the added worry of COVID-19, it’s super important for me, and all parents really, to be as educated about the flu and COVID-19 as possible. Prevention diligence is imperative as well in order to ensure his health and safety.
I am already anxious about it.
If you recall towards the beginning of this pandemic, there was a lot of talk about how this virus was just basically like the flu. A lot of that probably came from misunderstandings and misinformation that stemmed from simple lack of knowledge and experience where this novel virus was concerned. Fortunately, as time and research have gone on, and the medical community has gained more experience treating COVID, accurate information is more readily available.
As we enter the annual flu season, here are a few things parents need to know about the flu and COVID-19 to keep their kids healthy and safe this year.
The Flu and COVID-19: What Parents Need to Know
Current evidence indicates that most children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults.
Influenza is a different story.
Each year, millions of children contract influenza. An estimated 6% to 12% of children seek care for influenza-related illness each year and it results in thousands of hospitalizations and many deaths.
Complications from the flu are seen in about 41% of children with the virus, the most common complications being pneumonia, seizures, other secondary bacterial infection such as sinusitis or otitis media, and exacerbation of existing respiratory issues such as asthma.
Additionally, those with other health issues like asthma, blood disorders, liver or kidney disease, obesity and various other chronic illness, as well as those younger than age 2, those older than 65, and women who are pregnant or recently delivered a baby.
According to the CDC, there are currently no specific drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of COVID-19.
Various antivirals have been approved for use with influenza, however.
Receiving care at the onset can allow for a much better outcome for your child and those with whom he or she may share a home. Seeking care early not only allows your child to be monitored by a doctor, but it also may allow for treatment with these antivirals which are deemed most effective if administered within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
The symptoms of influenza, the common cold and COVID-19 are in many ways the same.
The truth is that, when it comes to these viruses, it can be challenging to differentiate between them.
Many of the symptoms among the flu and COVID-19 and even the common cold tend to overlap so determining which virus you or your child is suffering from can be quite challenging.
There are some basic, notable differences between the common cold and what you may experience if you or your child has the flu and COVID but, unfortunately, when it comes to influenza and COVID, your best bet is to seek medical care and get tested because the symptoms can align quite well.
The common cold symptoms: symptoms would include head congestion, cough, but no shortness of breath and a fever is uncommon.
COVID-19 and influenza symptoms: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle pain/body aches, headache, vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults).
There is not a vaccine for COVID-19 at this time.
Fortunately, there is a vaccine for influenza.
Though there seems to be a large amount of misunderstanding surrounding the annual flu vaccine, health care professionals widely agree it is the number one preventative measure parents can take. They encourage people to get the flu shot early in the fall and it is the recommended guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
While we anticipate that one will soon be developed and administered for COVID-19 as well, we continue to practice general public health measures, like hand washing and mask wearing, as our primary form of prevention.
For protecting yourself, your children and others against COVID and influenza.
Did you know the average person touches their face about 23 times per hour?
Wearing a mask helps prevent this behavior which can transmit viruses.
You can learn more and help educate medical professionals by taking this survey.
Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input.
You can complete the survey here: Pediatric Flu Survey
The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with pediatric influenza, which will help us develop future educational initiatives. Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize and to send a follow-up survey as part of this same initiative.