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The best thing you can do to protect your children from swine flu (H1N1 virus) is to get them the seasonal flu vaccine. Each year, researchers determine the three strains of influenza likely to be the most common in the coming flu season, and include these viruses in the flu vaccine. Ever since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic (originally referred to as the swine flu pandemic), the vaccine available in the U.S. and the whole of the northern hemisphere has included the H1N1 strain.
Children, especially those under the age of five, are at greater risk of developing complications from the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months -- and especially children under five and children with chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes -- be vaccinated. They also recommend that anyone between the ages of 6 months and 8 years who did not receive a seasonal flu vaccine last year receive two doses this year to ensure that the vaccine will be effective.
Anyone who will be caring for or coming in contact with your children should also receive the vaccine -- including parents, babysitters, grandparents, and other family members. In addition, everyone in your family should follow these steps to keep germs at bay:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
- Keep hands away from eyes, mouth, and nose.
- Steer clear of anyone who is sick.
- Urge loved ones and friends to stay home if they come down with the flu.
Protecting your children is very important. The best way to protect your child against swine flu (H1N1) is to get him or her vaccinated when recommended.
In addition, teach your children how to avoid coming into contact with the swine flu virus. Show them how to properly wash their hands, and how to use hand sanitizer. Stress the importance of hand washing, not sharing drinks, and avoiding contact with people who are coughing or showing other symptoms of swine flu.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.