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Dr. Jerome Adams: How parents can protect children from ‘early flu season’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana is now in the “very high” flu spread category, and the state recently announced its first pediatric flu death for the season.

Dr. Jerome Adams, a former U.S. surgeon general and the WISH-TV medical expert, talked with News 8’s Drew Blair on Tuesday afternoon about what parents need to know.

He said that “young children and especially babies are particularly susceptible to the flu virus, and children under 5 are at higher risk of complications.

“We’ve got an early flu season. It’s already worse than last year in terms of number of deaths, and the predominant strain this year is the H3N2, which we know traditionally is more likely to cause death.”

Adams said people should watch for children who are having difficulty breathing, which can be noticed if children are moving their ribs to breathe. Another sign? Discoloration, which means the children are not getting enough oxygen.

Dehydration — Are the children using the bathroom? — and lethargy are other signs of a possible flu.

One preventative measure that parents can take is to get flu vaccinations for children over older than 6 months.

“The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services says it would like to have 70% of Americans get a flu shot by the end of the decade, but fewer than 50% of Americans have gotten a yearly flu shot over the last 10 years, the doctor said.

Adams also talked Tuesday about flu medicines not readily available from local stores and what can be done to find needed remedies. 

Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.