It’s that time of the school year when the summer break is just a few weeks away from getting over, and soon the little ones will be getting back to school. For my kids, it’s a matter of another three weeks before they head back to school, which means it’s time to bring on some mommy powers and get into the #MomVsFlu gear!
While I’m generally one of those paranoid and careful mommies, I do encourage both my kids to play around and go out there as much as they can. And it’s no surprise that each year, they spend a considerable amount of time being sick with two of the most common and most dreaded kiddie illnesses that I think all us mommies face – the cough and the cold.
Not to mention these risks increase way more around this time of the year when the heat and the humidity levels are at their peak. So, I’m even more worried because the monsoon is round the corner, and these pre-monsoon weeks are the biggest culprits when the scare of influenza is also at its peak.
What is influenza, or flu?
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It’s a very common infection with more than 10 million cases per year in India. Other illnesses that resemble flu can be caused by many different viruses. Influenza A/H1N1 (earlier called ‘Swine Flu’) is a type of seasonal flu virus that now occurs around the world. By the way, did you know that humidity can also lead to a rise in the cases of influenza and makes the condition spread more?
Building baby and mommy’s immunity
When I was a first-time mom, I thought this is something that happens to the really smaller babies and will get better soon, that the immunity will build up and my child will not face cold and cough after maybe the first or second year.
But that perception changed by the time I had my second one. I knew there was no escaping the cold and cough. As long as there were kids around, as long as they would go out and play, go to school, and basically interact with other children and grown-ups even, they would continue to come back home with cold and cough.
Basic medicines were something I was putting them on a lot, but once I too got really sick with cold and cough, my doctor advised it was time we all get ahead and get the flu shots – for the entire family and not only for the kids.
“How will you keep your kids safe and away from the germs when you become a carrier yourself?” he asked me simply, which is when it hit me – the flu vaccine isn’t something just the kids need, we the parents need it, too.
That’s why I was really keen to be at the influenza mommy bloggers meet, to understand more about the health aspects and see how we could keep our children safe from it.
This Mother’s Week, I took the pledge
Yes, I know that from the day you hold your little one in your arms for the first time, every day is Mother’s Day. But why not dedicate a week to this special bond and actually do something that can protect me and my kids, and the entire family?
As a mother and someone who has seen her kids fall sick, I took the pledge this Mother’s week to protect them, which is why I have made the decision to have the influenza shot. I am all ready to speak to my doctor and take the necessary precautions and the shot, which I know will keep my babies safe, and help me prepare them for their school reopening without worrying about bugs and the flu.
And it’s not just me, but celebrity mommy Genelia Deshmukh, who was also part of the event, is also taking the pledge to fight against influenza. Her message that mommies should turn from ‘worrier to warrior’ makes the perfect tagline for mother’s week, as well as for all those moments we spend worrying about our little ones.
At the bloggers meet, here are some things I picked up and felt I must share with my fellow mommies to help you stay alert and take charge of your baby’s health…
Flu is contagious and spreads in the following ways:
1. Through coughing and sneezing. People with flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away. Flu viruses spread mainly through tiny droplets made when people with a flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or be inhaled into the lungs.
2. Touching infected surfaces and objects: People can also be exposed to flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, eyes, or nose. Studies have shown that human flu viruses generally can survive on surfaces.
#1. Fever or feeling feverish/chills
#2. A cough
#3. A sore throat
#4. Runny or stuffy nose
#5. Muscles or body aches
Who is at the highest risk?
- Children less than 5 years of age.
- Children with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system
- Pregnant women
Common cold Vs Flu
According to Dr. Mukesh Gupta, Gynecologist/ Obstetrician,”Common cold is not the same as flu. Influenza is very different and we should not confuse them with each other.”
Dr. Uday Pai, Pediatrician (MD, DCH Distinction), seemed to answer directly to me when he made it very clear that, “We assume we are healthy and that we won’t catch a cold or influenza, but this is not true. Everyone is susceptible and our body is exposed to many risks on a daily basis.”
I am definitely guilty of doing this a lot, and in fact, I was pleasantly surprised to hear actress Genelia Deshmukh echo the same when she said that she was also in the habit of treating influenza as general cold, but soon realised that the two were very different.
“If you are planning to try and have a baby, you can take a flu vaccine, even before you get pregnant, “ advises to Dr. Gupta who added that only a healthy body can bring a healthy baby, and hence a preconception vaccine is important. “Also, if you are pregnant, you can take influenza vaccine at any time during your pregnancy. It is absolutely safe,” assures Dr. Gupta.
Prevention is better than cure!
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Get vaccinations when required and speak to your doctor about it
Vaccines may take 4 to 6 weeks to develop complete immunity in your body, so you must take it before any epidemic like swine flu breaks out, cautioned Dr. Pai, who says that April, May, June are the best months to take the influenza vaccination for children and for the whole family, to get complete prevention against flu.
To brush up on my understanding, I went on the Mothers Against Influenza (MAI) website. Ideally, vaccinating your baby between the ages of 6 and 9 months will provide the best protection and avoid discomfort to your little one. In fact, your paediatrician is the best person to talk to and understand when is the earliest age at which you can safely give the flu vaccine to your baby.
About the Flu vaccination
Influenza vaccines, also known as flu shots or flu jabs, are vaccines that protect against infection by Influenza viruses. A new version of the vaccine is developed twice a year, as the Influenza virus rapidly change. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends yearly vaccination for nearly all people over the age of six months, especially those at high risk. These groups include pregnant women, the elderly, children between six months and five years of age, those with other health problems, and those who work in healthcare.
We can easily fight all our worries related to our babies suffering from Flu by becoming more aware of flu and of the vaccination, and whether you are planning to have a baby, are pregnant, or already have little ones at home, it’s really important to take a strong action and get our babies and our children, and of course ourselves, vaccinated.
If you’re not sure whether or not your family physician has the vaccine, you can get a list of the nearest doctors here who can guide you better on this.
Disclaimer: I attended a discussion on influenza awareness facilitated by Abbott India Limited. Any opinion expressed in this blog is my personal opinion and not the opinion of Abbott India Limited. Abbott India Limited does not assume any liability for the content of the blog. The blog post is not meant to be a replacement for a doctor consultation, nor is it a medical recommendation or prescription of treatment for babies having Influenza. Any reader of this blog or their family members suffering from Influenza should specifically consult his/her doctor for the same and follow the suggested course of treatment.
About the Author –
Debolina started jotting down her parenting journey online when her first daughter was born, and it’s been a never-ending and fun experience in the world of blogging. Today, with two daughters and a home full of books, she continues writing about parenting, health, wellness, beauty, books and also pens her poetry and thoughts. When not churning stories for her work role, she prefers to run away from the city with her girls.