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Keeping children healthy over the holidays.

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A cartoon reindeer wearing a mask sits in the snow, coloured lights tangled in its antlers. Keeping your children healthy over the holidays. Hear from the experts written across a snowy sky.

As winter returns so do viruses like RSV, influenza and COVID, which can cause colds and breathing trouble in both young and school-aged children across the province.  

The common symptoms from these viruses are cough, runny nose, difficulty breathing, sore muscles and headaches, and often fever.  Some children, especially infants & toddlers, and those with other health challenges, can become sick enough to have to go the emergency department or even be admitted to hospital.

We asked three of our experts for their advice on how to keep infants, children and families healthy this holiday season. Here’s what they said.

Dr. Jeannette Comeau, Infectious Disease Specialist, IWK Health

“It’s not too late to have everyone in your family, six months and older, get their flu vaccines either through your family doctor or local pharmacy. This will also help protect other family members and friends.”

“If you or a family member are feeling unwell, but have to visit a public indoor space, please wear a mask. If you are sick you should stay home if you can.”

Dr. Andrew Lynk, Chief of Pediatrics, IWK Health

“Please avoid exposing your babies and small children to friends and relatives who are sick. RSV is all around, and it’s pretty hard on this age group.”

“Consider fun, illustrated books as holiday gifts for your children, grandchildren and/or nieces & nephews. Bedtime stories are great for bonding and help children have a good night’s sleep.”

Dr. Emma Burns, Emergency Department physician, IWK Health

“IWK’s Emergency Department is always here for you should you need us. As a parent or guardian, you know your child best but sometimes it is difficult to know what to do. Our website has some good examples to help you decide if your child needs emergency care.”

“A great website to visit that covers many common childhood illnesses is TREKK (Translating Emergency Knowledge for Kids). It helps parents and families care for sick kids at home and understand when to seek medical care.”