As the flu season nears while the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, medical experts are warning about two potentially deadly viruses running unchecked through communities nationwide, stretching overburdened hospital systems beyond capacity.
With this in mind, the American Academy of Pediatrics has put out recommendations for how to help keep children safe in the coming months.
The pediatricians note children play a key role in transmitting the flu to others and that they are particularly at risk from the virus. Nearly 200 children died from the flu in the U.S. last year, and 80% of those children were unvaccinated.
The academy recommends that anyone over 6 months of age, including pregnant women, get either a flu shot or nasal spray, preferably by the end of October. All flu vaccines for children this year will include two A and two B virus strains, to protect against the four strains of the influenza virus expected to circulate.
The physicians say pregnant women can get a flu vaccine at any time during pregnancy. Maternal vaccination is important because there are no vaccines available for infants up to 6 months of age.
The report also recommends cocooning as a way to protect infants. Cocooning is when family members and close contacts who are vaccinated, and thus less likely to get the flu and pass on the disease, create a protective bubble around the baby.
No matter what your age, the goal is to get a flu shot before the virus begins widely circulating in your community. As the world is learning with the COVID-19 crisis, chasing a deadly virus is much harder than taking the necessary steps to block its transmission.