Don’t get benched at home by the flu, actively protect your family so you can cheer the Swans on up close at every game.
The flu season is already underway and is expected to last all the way to the finals. And it’s not only the flu that could pose a challenge in getting to games this season, COVID-19 is still around and RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) is also on the rise. Influenza, COVID-19 and RSV are serious viruses that are more than just a “cold”, they can be severe and even fatal to those who are vulnerable. Young children, and those with chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes, are much more likely to become unwell.
Every year in Australia, hundreds of children are so unwell from the flu they need to be treated in hospital. Already this year more than 500 children have presented with influenza to The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network for care.
Get ahead of the game
Just like the make-up of the Sydney Swans team changes each year, the type of flu viruses circulating often change year-to-year too. This means each year you may be up against a different type of opponent. It’s important to get yourself and your kids vaccinated against the flu as a first preventative step to secure a season of footy at the game and not from the couch. Getting vaccinated is a team sport – you’re protecting yourself but also helping to protect vulnerable people who can’t get the vaccine themselves or don’t respond strongly to it, such as young babies and people who have low immunity.
Children six months or older should get a flu shot every year to ensure their bodies are fighting the current strain of virus and that they get protection beyond just the season. The flu shot is also free for those who need it most:
- Children aged 6 months to under 5 years
- All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people older than 6 months
- All adults aged 65 years and older
- Pregnant women
- People with certain underlying medical conditions
Associate Professor Philip Britton, Infectious Diseases Paediatrician at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, stresses having all household members vaccinated for influenza yearly and COVID-19 (check booster eligibility) can also prevent sickness and transmission. You can also protect your family from serious viruses is by practicing health hygiene including good cough behaviours (covering you mouth when you cough), washing hands regularly and staying away from young children if sick to help prevent transmitting viruses to them.
Got questions on the flu shot? Keep informed.
The game plan
To make it through the season to Grand Final Day make sure you have a game plan for your home and family.
- Speak to your doctor about vaccinations for the family.
- Always cover coughs and sneezes to stop the spread of viruses.
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol solution for 20-30 seconds – this is about the length of the first verse of the Sydney Swans club song.
- Minimise touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- If you have an unwell child, try to keep them away from other siblings, especially younger ones.
- Get medical advice and treatment if you or your child becomes severely unwell.
- Regularly clean high touch surfaces such as door handles, kitchen bench tops, switches and taps.
- Don’t share personal household items such as cutlery and towels without washing them first.
Reviewing the decision
Cough? Fever? Headache? Body aches? Sore throat? Sneezing? Snotty nose? Difficulty breathing? Loss of taste or smell? Trying to work out what virus your child has based on a list of symptoms can be harder than determining a goal review on the field. Professor Nicholas Wood, Associate Director of Clinical Research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, says viruses are tricky and don’t always play by symptom lists, making it difficult to differentiate without medical testing. Often symptoms can vary with age, and you don’t need to have all the symptoms to have Flu, COVID-19 or RSV.
It’s important to know what the signs of serious illness in children are. When your child is sick and you’re unsure what to do, help is available. You can talk to a nurse anytime by calling HealthDirect for free advice on 1800 022 222 or contact your local doctor. In an emergency call Triple Zero (000). Remember, the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network is here for you and your family, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Want to stay in the know about other kid’s health topics? Head to the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network.
If you’d like to support the incredible work of the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, please visit www.schf.org.au/donate.
For more information about the Sydney Swans’ partnership with Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation, please visit www.schf.org.au/swans.
Read more about leading a healthy lifestyle at our Wellness Hub, here.