I’m concerned my kids will catch H1N1, which is going around their school. What do you do to protect your kids?
Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: “Many days, our ER has seen a 200 percent increase over the number of patients we usually see,” Dr. Lyle says. “We’re seeing hundreds of cases of H1N1 a month.”
Unlike the regular flu, no one has antibodies to HIN1, so our chances are getting it are better than getting the seasonal flu. “Although more people are getting sick, they’re not getting sicker than they would with the regular season flu,” Dr. Lyle says. “Most of the kids who are diagnosed with H1N1 aren’t being admitted. Our admissions are about the same as usual for this time of year.”
Here’s what I’m doing to try to protect my daughters from H1N1.
I had my kids vaccinated against H1N1 as soon as their doctor had it available. The vaccine uses the same “recipe” as the vaccine for the regular seasonal flu does. There’s no reason to be scared of this vaccine!
We all wash our hands as often as possible, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. We’re careful to dry our hands so that germs don’t stick to them as easily.
I keep hand sanitizer in my car to use when we can’t wash.
I teach my kids to avoid touching surfaces in public places. One study showed that flu viruses can live for up to 48 hours on hard, nonporous surfaces and for up to 12 hours on cloth and tissues.
I teach my kids to avoid touching their eyes, noses, and mouths. Although the virus seems to survive for only minutes on hands, that’s plenty of time to transfer it to your eyes, nose, and mouth.
I carry a pen with me and use it instead of pens at banks and restaurants.
I try to avoid shaking hands, and I nod and smile instead.
I tell my kids to stay a comfortable distance (six feet) from people—especially sick people.
We avoid places with kids’ play areas.
To boost our immunity, we all take multivitamin and mineral supplements each day.
We’re trying to get plenty of sleep and avoid stress.
“Despite a Mom’s best efforts, kids get sick,” Dr. Lyle says. “It’s not because you’re a bad parent. If your kids are otherwise healthy, just chalk it up to helping to build their immune systems. For kids with asthma, cystic fibrosis, or other conditions, however, H1N1 could be particularly dangerous. Parents of these kids need to take all of these precautions to prevent H1N1.”
—Kristin C. Lyle, MD, FAAP, a mom of three girls and disaster medical director at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, both in Little Rock