Young healthy children (under 5 years of age) are at risk for complications from the flu. The risk is higher in children under 2 years of age. One study found that 57% of children who were hospitalized with the flu were under 2 years of age. Another study found that children under 2 years of age were 12 times as likely to be hospitalized for the flu as children 5 to 17 years of age.
Other children at risk of flu complications include:
- children with chronic (long-term) medical problems such as asthma, heart problems, or neurological problems
- children with weakened immune systems
- children on long-term aspirin (ASA, acetylsalicylic acid) treatment
To protect your child from flu complications:
- Make sure that your family and all of your child's caregivers take steps to prevent the flu.
- If your child is at risk of flu complications (see above) and has symptoms of the flu, take them to the doctor as soon as possible (find the flu clinic nearest to you). Use the doctor discussion guide to help you prepare for your visit. The doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication, which can reduce the risk of complications, reduce symptoms, and shorten the length of illness if taken within 48 hours of the start of your symptoms.
- If your child is diagnosed with the flu, follow your doctor's instructions for flu treatment. If your doctor prescribes an antiviral medication, have the prescription filled as soon as possible, and keep taking the medication for as long as your doctor recommends to complete the full course of treatment.