By Jackie Burrell
Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 at 10:17 am in Health & Safety.
People panicked when the new H1N1 virus suddenly swept through schools last spring. Now pharmaceutical companies are racing to complete testing of a “swine flu” vaccine for fall. And Yvonne Maldonado, MD, chief of infectious disease at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, is offering a list of helpful, precautionary tips for families, including expectant mothers.
Special Advice for Pregnant Women: “Pregnant women should be especially careful to avoid being exposed to the influenza virus,” Maldonado says. Expectant women have been particularly susceptible to the swine flu. If you are pregnant and develop flu symptoms – cough, fever or sore throat – call your doctor immediately. The priority list for the H1N1 vaccine, which doctors hope will be ready by late fall, puts pregnant women first, then young children and their caregivers, and then older children.
Kids Get Two: Children should get two vaccinations – one for regular influenza and another for H1N1l. Kids who have never had a flu shot, says Maldonado, may need more than one dose.
Common Sense Precautions: Keep an eye out for flu-like symptoms – fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhea and vomiting. Kids and grown-ups with those symptoms should stay home. Maldonado notes that schools will be “extra vigilant” this fall about sending sick kids home, and urges parents to be proactive about keeping infection out of schools. And, of course, wash your hands, cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing, wash your hands and… wash your hands.
When to Call the Doc: Most cases of H1N1 have been mild. Get plenty of rest and liquids. Seeing the doctor may not be necessary, but a phone call can be helpful in monitoring the illness, says Maldonado, “Parents should be in touch with their health-care provider if they have any concerns â€“ for instance, in a younger child with a fever.”
More Info: Packard Children’s Hospital has posted several helpful videos about H1N1 on YouTube, including one from Sharon Williams, associate professor of psychiatry, on how to talk to your kids about the flu.