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What Puts You at Risk for the Flu?

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What About Hand Washing and the Risk of Flu?

Frequent and thorough hand washing is crucial to reducing the risk of flu. Be vigilant about washing your hands throughout the day. Teach your family members to do the same. Keep hand sanitizers with you at all times in case you are unable to get to a sink to use warm water and soap to wash your hands.

Is my Young Child at Greater Risk for Flu?

Children under age 2 years are at high risk for flu-related complications. As infants and young children grow, they are always battling with ongoing viruses and bacteria as their immune systems develop. In fact, it's normal for a young child to get as many as six to eight colds each year, along with ear infections, sinusitis, acute bronchitis, and croup. When a young child is sick frequently or has a weak immune system, the child has even greater risk for catching the flu virus and having complications.

How Can I Protect my Young Child From Flu?

It's important to protect young children from flu germs by watching what they put in their mouths. Keep teething rings, pacifiers, and other "mouth" toys clean by washing them frequently with soap and water and then drying them. In addition, frequently wash your infant or young child's hands with soap and water, because small children are always sucking their hands or fingers. Replace your young child's toothbrush frequently and keep the toothbrush separate from other family members' brushes.

Remember, flu is spread by people who are already infected. The most common flu "hot spots" are surfaces that an infected person has touched and rooms where he or she has been recently, especially areas where the person has sneezed.

If you have a newborn, it's important to protect your baby from people who may have flu symptoms. If your young child attends day care, make sure there's a "sick child" policy that says parents are not allowed to bring children who have fever or other symptoms of illness to the day-care facility.

Because babies under age 6 months cannot get flu shots, parents, family members, and caregivers should get flu shots to protect the infant from the flu. The CDC recommends that parents keep themselves and their babies away from people who are sick to prevent flu.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's Children and Flu.

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