The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is warning residents of the severity of flu infection in young children amid rising hospital admission numbers. The EOHU reminds residents about the importance of receiving the flu shot
The flu is a seasonal illness that can cause severe symptoms and complications in some people, and this year’s flu strain is putting more people in the hospital than ever. Local hospitals are currently seeing more cases of the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) than COVID-19, in both children and adults. Children under the age of five are more at risk of severe complications due to their developing immune systems and small airways, and pediatric hospitals in the area are seeing surges in critical admissions of the flu and RSV.
The flu shot is the best protection against the flu and is recommended for those who are at high risk of complications, especially children ages six months to five years old. Families with babies under six months are recommended to all receive the flu shot, as babies under six months cannot get the shot themselves and are at an even higher risk of complications. The flu shot is available free of charge to anyone six months and older who lives, works, or attends school in Ontario.
« Children have generally been spared the worst effects of COVID-19, but the flu is different,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, EOHU chief medical health officer. “Sadly, the flu can be very dangerous for children, and this year it has been particularly severe and arrived earlier than usual. Booking an appointment to get the flu shot for you and your child is one of the best things you can do to help keep them healthy and out of hospital.”
Aside from the flu shot, measures for protecting against the flu are similar to protecting against COVID-19. Wearing a mask in indoor spaces, washing the hands with soap and water, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, sneezing and coughing into the elbow or sleeve, and staying home if a person feels sick are all ways to protect against both COVID-19 and the flu.
If a child has severe symptoms and illness from the flu, do not hesitate to seek medical attention, including going to the emergency room. The flu shot is available through pharmacies and health care providers, and the EOHU also offers the flu shot at its offices to children under five and their household members by appointment. The EOHU is also scheduling a series of flu immunization clinics.
For more information on the flu and the flu shot, please visit http://www.EOHU.ca.