Navigating Flu Season During A Pandemic

September 27, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

I’m excited to partner with Med-IQ to educate parents and caregivers about pediatric flu. At the end of my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked below. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Genentech to write about the symptoms and treatments for pediatric influenza. All opinions are my own.

flu season

If you’re like me, anytime anyone in your family has the slightest sniffle, cough or ache, you immediately think “COVID!” The cloud of uncertainty and isolation we’ve all been living under these last six months has been beyond frustrating, and it’s about to get even more so. Welcome to flu season!

Take the constant stream of information (and misinformation) about COVID-19. Mix in the start of the strangest, least educational school year ever. Sprinkle with an unhealthy dose of cold and flu season, and how that all plays into the global pandemic. It’s a recipe for disaster — or at least a whole lot of stressed out parents.

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What I find to be most helpful is focusing on the facts. Facts aren’t always pleasant, but they do provide a foundation for me to determine the best course of action for me and my family. In a world of contradictory theories, science deniers and incompetent leadership, facts are going to be what gets us through.

Luckily, I was recently able to sit in on a conversation with three experts in the fields of medicine and infectious diseases: Paul G. Auwaerter, MD, John J. Russell, MD, FAAFP and Kathryn Birken-Friedman, MD. They shared their wisdom, insight, and loads of facts to help families like mine and yours navigate the uncharted waters of a combination pandemic/flu season. Below are the highlights from the chat, followed by an important survey about influenza and how it affects the most vulnerable among us.
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FACTS ABOUT PEDIATRIC FLU

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Every year, millions of children get the flu, resulting in thousands of hospitalizations and many deaths — especially ages 5 and under.

  An estimated 6% to 12% of children are treated for influenza-related illness each year.
  41% of children with influenza experience flu-related complications. Among the most common are pneumonia, seizures, secondary bacterial infections like sinusitis or otitis media, and worsening of existing respiratory issues like asthma.
  The flu vaccine is the number one preventative measure for kids 6 months and older. The CDC recommends getting the flu shot early in the fall.
•  Young children comprise the largest proportion of patients needing flu-related care. (Doctors noted that younger kids are more likely to spread influenza, while older kids are more likely to spread COVID-19)
•  Antiviral treatments are available to treat the flu and are most effective when administered within 48 hours of symptom onset.
•  Wearing masks helps with prevention. In addition to reducing the spread of germs, they prevent you from touching your nose and mouth — people commonly touch their eyes, nose and face 23 times in an hour!
•  If your child experiences any of these symptoms, contact your pediatrician immediately to prevent further complications like pneumonia or ear infections: fast or trouble breathing, bluish lips or face, ribs pulling in with each breath, chest pain, severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk), dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying), not alert or interacting when awake, seizures, fever over 104° F, any fever in children younger than 12 weeks, fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen, worsening of chronic medical condition.¹

Many parents are reluctant to visit doctors to avoid contracting COVID-19, or perhaps assume they won’t be able to get in due to COVID-related restrictions. However, because of the pandemic, now is the time to be proactive with prevention. Call the pediatrician now (even if your child isn’t sick) to learn what their protocol for flu and COVID-19 treatment are. Find out if their policies for office visits and appointments have changed, so you can plan ahead accordingly.
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COLD? FLU? COVID? HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE

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Below is a chart² comparing the different symptoms associated with influenza, COVID-19 and the common cold. Feel free to print it out and keep it handy in the coming months. Identifying these illnesses early ensures more effective treatment, as well as decreases the risk of it spreading to vulnerable family members.
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Flu Season chart

click to enlarge + print

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MORE FACTS = BETTER PREPARED FOR FLU SEASON

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Here’s the survey I mentioned, and why you should take it:
•  It will help you better equip yourself with more knowledge about pediatric flu.
•  Your input will provide important feedback to Med-IQ, who will use it to better educate healthcare professionals.
•  BONUS: you could win one of ten $100 VISA gift cards! That’s nothing to sneeze at!
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Flu Season survey

Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with pediatric influenza, which will help us develop future educational initiatives.

WIN A $100 VISA GIFT CARD!

Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win one of ten $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize and to send a follow-up survey as part of this same initiative.

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ABOUT MED-IQ
Med-IQ is an accredited medical education company that provides top-notch educational experiences for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals.
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¹ Source: CDC.gov “Flu Symptoms & Complications”
² Source: Holland Hospital “Is it COVID-19, the Flu or Just a Cold?”

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