Back to School, How to Prepare Your Family for Cold and Flu Season

Published on Sep 09, 2023 | 9:35 AM

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Flu and cold preparations are important for families to minimize the impact of seasonal illnesses by reducing symptoms and preventing the spread of infections within the household. Being prepared with appropriate medications and hygiene practices helps ensure a quicker recovery for affected family members and lowers the risk of the illness spreading to others.

Slowing Germ Spread

There are several ways that you can prevent cold and flu germs from spreading. Simple everyday actions can be very effective at slowing the spread of these infectious diseases.

Proper and regular hand-washing is absolutely critical. Learning the right ways to wash and dry their hands before and after touching objects that others will come into contact with can significantly slow the spread of germs. Proper hand-washing techniques include:

  • Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (or while they sing “Happy Birthday”)
  • Using a paper towel to dry hands and re-using the paper towel to turn faucets off
  • Opening bathroom doors with the elbows or feet

In addition to the above, children should not touch their eyes, mouth, or nose unless they’ve washed their hands. Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol can be used. Parents can also choose hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol spray where ingredients in hand sanitizer, such as fragrance, are not desired. Learn more by reading Call-On-Doc Focus: Why is Washing your Hands so Important?

Covering sneezes and coughs is another essential way to slow germ spread. Cover these with a tissue, or cough and sneeze into the arm. The proper disposal of tissues and hand washing should also occur after blowing the nose and coughing into the hands.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend flu vaccines for children aged six months and older. However, they do stress that there are circumstances where these products should not be taken. Some examples include children who:

  • Are younger than six months
  • Have had a severe reaction to previous flu vaccines
  • Have an allergy to egg or other vaccine ingredients
  • Have underlying conditions that can cause serious complications

Because of these reasons and the fact that flu vaccines are available in two forms, obtaining product-specific information will help you make an informed decision. Ask your medical provider for a list of the ingredients in the flu product you’re considering and about any potential side effects that may arise from flu vaccines.

Your doctor can recommend age-appropriate flu shots for your child, as well as alternative products if your child is currently ill and unable to receive a product until well. To learn more about children's vaccines and the CDC's age/vaccine schedule, read Call-On-Doc Focus: Immunization Schedule & Why it is Important to Stay on Track.

What to Do if Your Child Gets Sick

No preventative measure can entirely eliminate the possibility that your child will get sick from cold and flu viruses. That being said, preparations can be made ahead of time in the event that illness does occur.

It's thus important to understand the symptoms behind each virus and their most common symptoms. 

The symptoms of common cold viruses may come on gradually. Although fever is rare, your child may experience fever and chills. Fatigue and weakness can sometimes accompany other cold symptoms. The most common symptoms are sneezing, runny nose, and a sore throat that can pair with chest discomfort and a mild to moderate cough. 

Flu virus symptoms can appear abruptly. Fever and aches are both typical symptoms, with chills being fairly common. Fatigue and weakness usually occur with the flu, whereas sneezing, sore throat, and stuffy nose may only occur sometimes. If you do have a sore throat alongside flu symptoms, you might consider getting tested for strep throat alongside the flu, as the two conditions can be present at the same time. Other common symptoms include cough, headache, and chest discomfort. Learn more about the flu through The Call-On-Doc Guide to the Flu

Learn more about cold and flu symptoms by reading Call-On-Doc Focus: How do I know if it's Covid-19, a Cold, or the Flu?

Prioritize Hydration and Rest

Both rest and hydration will help your child reduce cold or flu symptoms and help their immune system fight off these highly contagious infections. Even so, a child who has a fever or doesn’t feel well may not wish to drink anything. This makes encouraging hydration that much more important.

Babies can be in serious danger if dehydrated; watch for dehydration symptoms like infrequent urination and dry lips. If breastfeeding, consider shorter and more frequent feedings to ensure sufficient hydration.

Children may benefit from hydration products like Pedialyte, which is formulated specifically for younger ages. If your child is older, clear liquids like broth can provide hydration as well as nutrition. Juice, popsicles, and sports drinks can also provide hydration.

Rest is absolutely essential for the full recovery from a cld or the flu. To encourage your child to rest, make sure they are as comfortable as possible, especially when feverish. This can involve giving them a lukewarm bath to cool them down and removing extra clothing or blanket layers.

Clear a Stuffy Nose and Relieve a Cough

Saline solutions in nasal drops or sprays can help make it easier to release mucus from the nose when blowing. A cool-mist humidifier can also be helpful to break up mucus.

According to studies, honey can be more effective than cough medicine at loosening cough for children one year and older. Never give honey to children under one year of age; instead, consult your pediatrician for appropriate products.

CallonDoc – Your Superior Choice for Cold and Flu Advice

Colds and the flu won’t wait until your doctor’s office is open. When you need the advice of a pediatrician anywhere in the United States, Call-On-Doc is your solution.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many used Call-On-Doc to speak with board-certified physicians from the comfort of their homes. Today, telemedicine continues to benefit everyone needing a physician’s advice. Here’s how we help parents:

Unparalleled affordability. No insurance is required with us, and our consultation costs are lower than most co-pays. A pediatric consult is $39.99 per visit where a board certified pediatrician will connect with you by phone or video.

Around-the-clock access. You never have to wait for CallonDoc to be open. Even in the middle of the night, Call-On-Doc gives your child quality medical care without traveling to or waiting at a doctor’s office.

Same-day convenience. CallonDoc can review you or your child's symptoms the same day and any medication that is prescribed in your treatment plan is sent to your pharmacy of choice anywhere in the US!

Find out how to get ready for back to school cold and flu season with CallonDoc; visit us today.

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Wayne C. Hahne,

English graduate and Call-On-Doc’s medical resource guide, Wayne C. Hahne is an experienced and passionate medical education content expert. Through diligent research, provider interviews and utilizing the industry's leading resources for wellness information, it is Mr. Hahne’s personal mission to educate the general public on medical conditions with in-depth and easy-to-understand written guides.

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