The holidays are over, and we’re back to the usual routine. Amidst the second wave of the pandemic, here are some tips and reminders from Dr. Salima Abdulla about how to stay in good health throughout the rest of the school year.
- What steps can parents take to best handle the cold and flu season this winter? How do I encourage children to help prevent the cold/flu from spreading?
We are constantly being reminded of the daily practices we can leverage to keep ourselves and our families safe. A lot of these same practices can be applied to tackling colds and the flu.
Frequent hand-washing, for 20 seconds with soap and warm water, is recommended, as well as the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer when hand-washing is not accessible. Sanitizing products should also be used on high-traffic items and surfaces. It is important that we try our best not to touch our eyes, nose, and mouth, and use a tissue when coughing or sneezing, to help stop the spread of germs.
For children and adults over the age of six months, the annual flu shot is a great way to protect yourselves against the flu virus.
Encouraging your children to continue following these practices to limit the spread of COVID-19 as well as the common cold and flu viruses is a great reminder of the role they can play in helping to keep themselves, their family, and their community safe.
- How can I keep my kids safe with the cold, flu, and COVID-19 still on the rise as they go to school?
Many schools in BC have protocols in place based on public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms. Encourage your kids to listen carefully to their teachers and school staff, and follow all the protocols outlined by school boards.
During cold and flu season, germs are spread usually through high-touch surfaces, and when children touch these areas they often touch their face, nose, and eyes. Explain to kids the importance of not touching their face and that consistent handwashing is important to help prevent the spread of germs. Motivate them to wash their hands or sanitize before and after they eat, when they come back from playing outside, gym class, or using shared tools like
scissors for crafting by putting little, fun, colourful bottles of hand sanitizer in their school lunch bags, coat pockets, and backpacks so they are easily accessible throughout the day. And if your kids are sick or showing symptoms, keep them at home and book a virtual care appointment with your family physician or through a virtual service to quickly get the answers you need from the comfort of home to help you make the right decision for your child’s well-being.
At home, habits and routines are important, such as washing hands as soon as they get home from school. Frequently disinfect commonly touched objects like door handles, cupboards, sinks, taps, and light switches so germs don’t spread around the house is also a good rule of thumb. Get the kids involved to make it a teaching moment explaining how each little step could help keep themselves and others around them safe.
- More than ever parents are turning to virtual care to prevent potential exposure and spread of the COVID-19 virus by going into a clinic; are there any tips you can provide to help parents make the most of virtual appointments?
Ensuring that parents are confident and comfortable with virtual care technologies prior to an appointment is helpful so they can make the most of their virtual consultation with a family doctor.
There are a number of things that parents and families can do in advance of an appointment to make sure that they are as prepared as possible:
- Even before anyone feels sick, use a smartphone to download the virtual care tool you’d like to use. There are a few to choose from including Babylon by Telus Health, Pathways Medical Care Directory, and Lumino Health.
- Take the time to go through the steps to register both you and your family members right away so it’s ready to go whenever someone feels under the weather.
- If appropriate, take a photo of ailments like rashes to upload for the doctor’s review while booking an appointment. This will give them an opportunity to assess the concern prior to the appointment and prepare questions for the unique issue.
- Have key information ready, such as current medications, also helps to equip the physician with the information needed to conduct a proper assessment.
- Secure a private, quiet space to have your virtual care appointment. By doing so, you’ll feel confident and comfortable sharing personal information with the physician, much like you would in a doctor’s office.
- How do virtual appointments work and are they effective?
Yes they are effective! While virtual appointments are not meant to replace the care provided by a family physician (if you have one), accessing a locally-licensed doctor from home can be a safe, convenient, and free option that complements existing public services for a family’s healthcare needs. Many offer a free, downloadable smartphone app and provide healthcare support and access seven days week, including evenings and weekends. That means families can get care where and when they need it, avoiding any delays in addressing health concerns.
- What can my family do during this time to boost our immune systems? Should we be getting extra rest or eating specific foods?
There are many factors that go into strengthening our immune systems in order to help protect us from the cold and flu. It is important to ensure that we are prioritizing key factors including sleep, a healthy diet, and adequate exercise.
Getting at least seven hours of sleep and eating a diet high in vitamins and essential nutrients from fruits and vegetables can help to keep immune systems strong and healthy during cold and flu season. Being active is not only another immune-boosting activity, but can also be a great way to spend time with family. Winter activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, and skating – or simply going for a walk – are fun, seasonal ways to strengthen immune systems, especially for children.
Babylon by TELUS Health helps BC parents book appointments to speak with a family physician or mental health professional often within minutes. The service also provides access to an artificial intelligence-powered Symptom Checker that parents can use to get information about an illness for themselves or their child and help them make an informed decision about the next steps.