Things parents can do to help protect children against the flu, RSV and COVID-19

Consumer Reports' experts are breaking down the best ways to help keep children healthy and what to do when they get sick.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – News4JAX is continuing to help you keep your family healthy during the triple health threat we’re now facing: COVID-19, Flu and RSV. Consumer Reports’ experts say there are specific things parents can do right away to help protect their children.

“Health care facilities are already being overwhelmed by sick kids -- especially with RSV which causes cold-like symptoms and sometimes serious respiratory problems -- especially in babies,” explained Consumer Reports Health Editor Kevin Loria.

Nobody wants a sick kid or to make an unnecessary trip to a doctor’s office or hospital. Loria said there are things you can do to help keep your children from getting sick, relieve symptoms when they occur and recognize when something is truly an emergency.

“While there’s no magic way to keep your kids from ever getting sick, there are some things you can do to better your odds, like keeping your kid’s vaccinations up to date,” he said.

Loria says that includes the flu vaccine. (If you don’t have health insurance, and you live in the Jacksonville area, you can request a no-cost flu vaccine voucher from the #FluVaxJax campaign here.)

Another important step in staying healthy is handwashing. Loria says parents and caregivers need to make sure to show kids how to properly wash their hands. They should scrub for 20 seconds when they get home, after using the bathroom, and before eating.

If your children do end up getting sick, make them as comfortable as possible.

“Kids generally need time to get better so let your child rest, watch some movies, perhaps. And very importantly, keep them hydrated,” said Loria.

As for medication, check with your doctor first, but it’s usually okay to use children’s ibuprofen or acetaminophen. But Consumer Reports says to steer clear of cough medicine because it doesn’t really work well for them and can even be dangerous.

It’s also important to know the signs of an emergency. If your child has a fever of 105-degrees, shows signs of dehydration, or is having trouble breathing, take them to an emergency room. Any fever in newborns under 2 months should also be considered an emergency.

There’s one other thing to remember and this is one way parents can help each other. If you have a sick child, keep them home, to help keep others from getting sick as well.