Protecting Children From the Flu

(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Boston) - With Boston declaring a flu epidemic, the focus on keeping kids healthy turns to their schools.

It's a place where children are in constant contact and germs can spread easily.

"I'm hoping that maybe the school vacation prevented those germs from coming to the school and that break helped us out a bit," said Edison K-8 School Nurse Kimberly Brown-Lynch.

She says although cases have been minimized by teaching children hand-washing and covering their coughs, she says the flu is nothing to take lightly.

Brown-Lynch said, "Because it could actually conceivably cause death in children and the elderly, and those with respiratory issues, it makes it even worse for them to recover from that."

Some students like 11-year-old Natalie Lima have already seen the symptoms up close. Lima's 6-year-old sister was sick for a week.

"She also got the ear infection with her flu and she got like really, really sick, she had to miss a week of school and she kept on crying all the time," she said.

Many parents have already been proactive about trying to protect their kids from the flu.

"Kind of scary but we're going to go - we already got our flu shot so hopefully we're okay and we won't have to go through what's going on," said Maria LeBron, a parent.

"We know that the flu vaccine is actually about 91 percent match for the major circulating strains out there, so it's a great match," said Mass General Hospital Emergency Medicine Medical Director Dr. Paul Biddinger.

Dr. Biddinger says the problem is this flu season is severe and it started about six weeks earlier than normal.

"The emergency department is over capacity, we're very, very full, hospital is completely full, the hospital has activated a capacity crisis committee and we're meeting several times a day to try and do everything we can to identify available beds, calls in extra staff, do what we can to make room for patients," he said.

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