PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — As a nation, and here in Central Illinois, flu activity is high and continues to rise.

Springfield Clinic’s Amanda Stovall, MD said Wednesday, “we are seeing quite a bit of respiratory illness right now of kids of all ages. We’re seeing a lot of flu. A lot of RSV. We are still seeing COVID and then we’re still seeing lots of other illnesses [like] your typical rhinovirus, the common cold, [and] adenovirus.”

Dr. Stovall said there are things parents or guardians can do to help kids stay healthy.

“If your child is over six months old, the best thing that you can do is to get them vaccinated against the flu,” said Dr. Stovall. “This can’t prevent your child from coming in contact with the flu, but if and when they do, their body’s already primed to fight it off and hopefully prevent any serious complications from the flu.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever

The CDC said, “sinus and ear infections are examples of moderate complications from flu, while pneumonia is a serious flu complication that can result from either flu virus infection alone or from co-infection of flu virus and bacteria.”

Dr. Stovall said parents/guardians should skip a pediatrician appointment and go to the emergency room if their child is struggling to breathe.

“For younger kids, when they’re really tired breathing, sometimes the color will change around their lips,” said Dr. Stovall. “If they’re working so hard to breathe [and] not able to bottle feed well (if they’re an infant), those are reasons to skip the pediatrician.”

Dr. Stovall said the best practices are to teach kids to learn proper handwashing techniques.

“Good handwashing can go a long way,” said Dr. Stovall.

Watch the interview for more recommendations from Dr. Stovall.