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How to protect your children from COVID-19 this flu season

Each year, between 5% and 20% of the population get the flu. It’s a respiratory illness that infects the nose, throat, and lungs. Sound familiar?

That’s because its symptoms are nearly identical to coronavirus, with the only known difference being the loss of taste and smell.

And with COVID still around, parents are worried about tackling both this fall and winter. While social distancing is in effect, there are still close carriers to stir the confusion -- school children.

“That’s all you need to get influenza around your community is kids in school,” said Dr. Kenneth Alexander, Division Chief of Infectious Diseases at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando.

So, what can you do to best protect your children from COVID this flu season?

Doctors say it’s important, now more than ever, to get a flu vaccine.

“It’s not only to protect ourselves, it’s to protect the people around us that we care about,” Alexander said.

And it’s even more important if you’ve already had coronavirus.

“There’s a good chance you may have some lung injury, and we don’t want to add influenza lung injury on top of that,” Alexander said.

The flu vaccine doesn’t prevent COVID, so there’s still the need for children to be socially distant.

“It’s co-horting. Keeping children in small groups so that if one child in the group gets infected, it doesn’t infect the whole classroom,” Alexander said.

And be sure to establish a daily routine with your kids. Give them a spare mask and hand sanitizer for the day. Instruct them to only touch the non-cloth parts of their masks. And remind them to wash their hands throughout the day as well as when they return home. Keep their shoes at the door and wash their uniforms after one wear.

Alexander suggests getting a flu shot at the first opportunity possible. Kids can start getting a flu shot at 6 months old.

Remind your kids to be aware of what they touch, and to wash their hands frequently with soap and water. It should take at least 20 seconds to wash their hands, which is equivalent to singing the “happy birthday” song twice. Also, keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.