H1N1 Answers from Dr. Mark Rosenberg

Back in the fall my normally “go with the flow on anything related to the kids’ medical health” husband, made a stand about H1N1. He was ADAMANT that the children — a kid, a preteen, and a teen — would not receive the H1N1 vaccine. I was flabbergasted by his stance.

Our family is no stranger to the flu shot. I — and my teen who was in utero at the time — got the flu shot in 1995. I was about 7 months pregnant at the time. I agonized. I hem and hawed. I consulted my doctor AND my OBGYN. I took the plunge while the nurse visiting my office plunged the needle in my arm.

TylenolSo now I sit and wonder if H1N1 will hit our household. It goes without saying that I want the winter of 2010 to end.

The makers of TYLENOL® have partnered with Janice Croze of 5MinutesforMom and pediatrician Dr. Mark Rosenberg to address some of the most frequently asked questions about flu among moms this season. I had the pleasure of submitting a few questions to Dr. Rosenberg — I know my readers who are moms of tweens and teens will be interested.

Dr. Rosenberg Answers My Questions About H1N1

Musings: What are your recommendations to keep teens safe from H1N1?

Dr. Rosenberg: First and foremost, make sure your teen is immunized. The H1N1 vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting your teen against H1N1 influenza. The CDC recommends that everyone from six months to 24 years of age receive it.

There are also everyday tasks that moms and their teens can practice to help prevent the flu including:

– Regular hand washing with soap and water; if a sink is not readily available, use hand sanitizer.

– Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; also, sneezing into the inner part of your elbow will help reduce the spread of germs.

– Wipe/sanitize items in high “teen-traffic” areas – e.g. phone receivers, computer keyboards and door knobs; keep TV remote in a plastic baggie and change often.

– Do not share cups and/or water bottles used in athletics.

However, the reality is that some teens will get the flu regardless of how diligent his/her parents are. So if your teen does get the flu, here are some caretaking tips I give to parents — it’s easy, just remember the three F’s:

Fluids: Keep your teen hydrated with fluids like ginger ale; teens with fever may get dehydrated by sweating.

Foods: Chances are your teen will not have much of an appetite when they’re sick, but it’s important that they get nourishment to help fight the illness. Things like rice, crackers, toast, soup, bananas, or frozen juice bars are all good options.

Fever: The flu is often accompanied by a fever, To reduce it, try giving your teen a fever-reducing medication like Tylenol. Also, keep your child home 24 hours after the fever has returned to normal without medication.

Musings: Any tips on how to encourage teens to stay healthy? I am sure that going to bed early, eating healthy foods, and practicing good hygiene will help, but teens are notorious for not taking care of themselves. Any suggestions?

Dr. Rosenberg: You’re right–practicing good hygiene is very important! The key to encouraging teens to stay healthy is to make it cool and engaging. Also, adding incentives is always a great way to keep teens interested in something. Try the following:

– Purchase singing soap dispensers so your teen can jam to their favorite band while washing their hands.
– Encourage them to stay active by participating in after school sport–physical fitness helps build a strong immune system.
– Keep healthy snacks at hand that are easy to access quickly for teens on the go; e.g. granola bars, apples, bananas, carrots, etc.
-Add rewards like an outing to the mall or a movie with friends if they remember to eat the recommended 5 servings of fruits and veggies.
– Encourage them to get enough sleep to help boost their immune system.

Musings: If kids are vaccinated for flu only and get H1N1, will they have a milder case of H1N1?

Dr. Rosenberg: Unfortunately, the seasonal influenza vaccine will not prevent children from getting H1N1 influenza. The single best way to protect them from H1N1 influenza is to make sure they receive the H1N1 vaccine.

Musings: The old wives’ tale is “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” Any truth/validity to this saying?

Dr. Rosenberg: Unfortunately this is one of those old wives’ tales that has no truth. While it is impossible to maintain good nutrition especially during an illness. It is equally important to stay well hydrated. It is even more important to increase fluid intake when you have a fever. There is one old wives’ tale that does have some truth. Chicken soup in fact, does help thin mucous when you are congested.

Musings: We have chosen not to vaccinate our three kids (6 yo, 11 yo, and 14 yo) with the H1N1 vaccine. My husband does not want to vaccinate the children as he thinks the H1N1 vaccine has not been tested long enough. The flu vaccine has been in use for years. Is H1N1 safe? Has the vaccine had the necessary testing?

Dr. Rosenberg: To date over 50 million Americans, most of whom are children, have received the H1N1 vaccine and the vaccine’s safety record is the same as that of the seasonal influenza vaccine. In fact, the H1N1 vaccine is made by a parallel process to the influenza vaccine so its safety has been well established.

I wanted to share some resources I saw over at 5 Minutes for Mom:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — https://www.cdc.gov/flu/
US Department of Health and Human Services — https://www.flu.gov

I was not compensated for this post.

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