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MAYWOOD, Ill. — On average, 20,000 children under the age of 5 years are hospitalized due to flu symptoms each year, the Loyola University Health System announced Thursday in a press release encouraging parents to have their children inoculated.
“The flu can be deadly, especially in children under the age of 5, and those who have certain health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease,” said Kevin Polsley, Loyola University Health System pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “But even if your child doesn’t have risk factors, he or she could still develop potentially fatal complications from the flu.”
“The best way to protect kids from the flu and its potentially deadly symptoms is a flu shot,” Polsley said. “Schools and day care centers are perfect environments for the flu to spread. But just because your child doesn’t go to school is not a guarantee they won’t get the flu. It’s everywhere.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly half of the children who died last year from the flu had no risk factors. As cold weather begins to set in and with people spending more time indoors and in confined spaces, the chances of contracting the flu increases.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that every child ages 6 months or older get a flu shot.
“It’s best to get the shot in the fall before we start to see a lot of flu activity because it takes two weeks for the body to develop an antibody response,” Polsley said.
For parents worried that their child may already have the flu, these are the symptoms to look for:
A high-grade fever up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit;
Chills and shakes with the fever;
Headache and body aches;
Dry, hacking cough;
Sore throat; and
Vomiting and belly pain.