Flu season already? Flu cases showing up early in Kentucky

All children 6 months and older should get the flu shot.

Flu season usually gets underway in October, but local pediatricians are already seeing cases.

Last year, a record number of kids died from the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu is more dangerous for children than the common cold. Hospitals see an average of 20,000 children under age 5 each year due to complications from the virus.

“The fact that we’re already seeing cases shows that flu doesn’t happen just in the fall and winter,” said April R. Mattingly, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Group – Crestwood. “Families need to start acting now.”

The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu shot. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, all children 6 months and older should receive the vaccine. If your child is between 6 months and 8 years old and has not had a flu shot before, two doses four weeks apart are recommended for the best immune response. Previously vaccinated children may need only one dose.

Even though the shot is more effective some years than others, Dr. Mattingly recommends getting the vaccine every year.

Norton Children’s Medical Group

Our trusted pediatricians provide routine well checks and treat minor illnesses and injuries, often with same-day appointments.

“What I typically share with patients is that the vaccine still affords protection, even if it doesn’t prevent flu entirely,” she said. “Not all strains may be covered, but it can minimize the severity and the length of the symptoms.”

Flu symptoms

If your child displays the following symptoms, Dr. Mattingly recommends scheduling a visit with a pediatrician:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some children have vomiting and diarrhea

“Be sure to see your doctor when you first notice symptoms,” Dr. Mattingly said. “A flu test is a simple nasal swab, and once we know that it is the flu, we can give medicine to help.”

Is it the flu or a cold?
Signs and symptoms Influenza Cold
Symptom onset Abrupt Gradual
Fever Usually; lasts 3-4 days Rare
Aches Usually; often severe Slight
Chills Fairly common Uncommon
Fatigue, weakness Usual Sometimes
Sneezing Sometimes Common
Stuffy nose Sometimes Common
Sore throat Sometimes Common
Chest discomfort, cough Common; can be severe Mild to moderate; hacking cough
Headache Common Rare