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How to Protect Your Infant From Getting The Flu

11:36 PM, Jan 13, 2014   |    comments
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RALEIGH, N.C. -- State health leaders say an infant has died from the flu.

It marks the first child death from the flu for the 2013-2014 flu season. Health leaders say an infant in the eastern part of the state died on Monday because of complications from the flu.

The infant was too young to receive a flu vaccine.

Infants can not receive a vaccine until they are 6-months-old.

"Best thing they can do is make sure everyone around the child is vaccinated or they can keep the child away from public places where the risk of encountering someone who is...not vaccinated is prevalent," explained Sharon Morrison, Ph.D, UNC-Greensboro.

Dr. Sharon Morrison is a public health expert and studies the flu virus. She says when it comes to protecting infants from this virus - parents need to be vocal.

Morrison says people who want to be around an infant need to be vaccinated.

She urges parents to have that conversation with friends and family members.

"People like to coo and hold infants, you might just explain to folks that it being flu season, you prefer not to have folks touch the child," said Morrison.

To protect your infant, Morrison suggests limiting trips to public places where there is sure to be a crowd like grocery stores, department stores, and malls.  

The Center for Disease Control encourages parents of infants to do the following:

Keep yourself and your baby away from people who are sick, as much as you can.

If you get the flu, stay home from work or school. If you are sick, do not go near other people so that you don't make them sick too.

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze-throw the tissue away after you use it.

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you are not near water, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.

Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread this way.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is ill.

As of last week, state health leaders reported 21 deaths associated with seasonal influenza. Out of those cases 19 people were young and middle-aged adults. Most of them had underlying medical conditions.

Health leaders expect flu activity to peak to higher levels over the next few weeks. The flu season typically peaks during January and February.

In addition to vaccination, NC DHHS encourages everyone to use personal precautions to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses:

Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discard the tissue promptly.

Wash hands frequently, preferably with soap and water or an approved hand sanitizer.

Stay home when you are sick until you are fever free for at least 24 hours.

For more information on flu and to find out where you can get a flu vaccination in your community, visit www.flu.nc.gov.

READ: Triad Doctors Help Track Flu Trends

READ: Hospitals With Visitor Restrictions Due To Flu

WFMY News 2/NCDHHS

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