There is nothing more important to a grandparent than getting to spend time with the grandkids. And there is nothing that can derail that quality time faster than when Grandma or Grandpa is feeling under the weather.

Staying up to date on vaccinations is important for everyone, but it is especially important for grandparents who hope to spend time with their young grandchildren. Young children are particularly susceptible to germs, and without the proper vaccinations, grandparents can unknowingly pass on these illness to their family.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that from Oct. 1 to Dec. 14, 2019, more than 3.7 million individuals were struck by the flu. More than 1,800 people died, some of them children too young to receive the recommended flu vaccine. In the Phoenix area, the Maricopa County Department of Public Health confirmed the county’s first child-flu death. The victim was an infant. 

“Although the flu is quite common, for older adults and younger kids it can cause serious illness and even death,” said Jessica Bozek, director of older adults at Jewish Family & Children’s Service. “While the majority of the public understands the importance of getting the flu vaccine, there are still those that choose to pass. This recent death is a sad reminder that anyone who can receive the flu shot should really take the time to make it happen. It’s not just about protecting yourself,  but protecting those that you come in contact with.” 

Getting the flu shot is a simple and easy procedure. Locations such as the Michael R. Zent Healthcare Center, the Glendale Healthcare Center or local pharmacies all have walk-in clinics. Costs are minimal and often covered by insurance or Medicare. But the flu shot isn’t the only vaccination seniors should keep up-to-date with. The following vaccinations are also recommended: Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and the whooping cough); shingles; MMR (measles, mumps, rubella); and pneumonia. 

Grandparents certainly don’t want to put their grandkids at risk and there are other helpful hints for keeping the flu at bay this winter season.

1. If possible, stay away from people who are sick. If you have the flu, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the help of fever-reducing medicine.

2. Practice frequent handwashing with soap and water. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use alcohol-based sanitizer.

3. Cough into your elbow or cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze.

4. Stay active and exercise regularly.

5. Try not to touch your nose, mouth or eyes. 

6. And if you don’t feel good, stay home and invite the grandkids another time.

Added Bozek, “In addition to staying on schedule and receiving recommended vaccinations, grandparents can protect their grandchildren by taking these other small precautions. The time spent with their grandchildren will make it well worth it.” JN 

Jennifer Schwegman is a Phoenix-based senior public relations consultant with HMA Public Relations.

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