Stop the Flu: Tips to Curb Seasonal Illness

Stop the Flu: Tips to Curb Seasonal Illness


As the 2019-2020 cold and influenza (flu) season begins, I would like to give you some tips that may help your family stay healthier this season. One measure that is important for children is to get a seasonal influenza vaccine each year to protect against seasonal flu and its potential complications. For 2019-2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this potentially serious disease. The CDC also recommends adults who are in close contact with young children or adults in contact with children of any age with chronic illnesses to get the flu vaccine. The vaccine is widely available in our area at physician offices, the local health department, and local pharmacies. Illnesses like colds and flu are spread from person to person via respiratory droplets. These droplets are spread by coughing, sneezing or by touching objects or people with contaminated hands. We know that some viruses and bacteria can live two hours or longer on surfaces such as desks and doorknobs.  Although viral and bacterial illnesses can spread from person to person during normal daily activities, there are some simple things which help reduce the spread of illness. Please remind your children of the following health habits.

1. Cover their mouth and nose when sneezing. If they can, they should use a tissue and then throw it away, washing their hands afterwards. If they don't have a tissue handy, they should use their inner elbow or upper sleeve rather than their hands. This practice prevents the spread of germs via their hands.

2. Keep their hands away from their eyes, nose, and mouth.

3. Clean their hands often. Remind them to wash with soap and warm water. The teachers give them bathroom breaks throughout the day that give them an opportunity to wash their hands. In addition to reminding them to use soap and water, the children at school are frequently reminded to not rush through washing their hands. A recommendation to help them wash long enough is to have them say a prayer, song or even the ABC's silently to themselves while washing. When the song or prayer is finished then they have washed long enough. Germ-X is also available in the classrooms to use throughout the day.

4. Remind them to not share cups, water bottles, or eating utensils.

5. Children should stay home when they are sick. They should stay home if they have a fever. Our school policy states that students must be fever free (below 100.1) for 24 hours without fever reducing medication before returning to school. This means that if they are sent home with an elevated temperature from the clinic, they are to stay home on the following day. This is to allow time to ensure that their elevated temperature does not return. They should also stay home (with or without fever) if they have symptoms which are obvious of illness, i.e. recent vomiting, cough, malaise, congestion. Sometimes it is difficult to decide in the morning whether a child is well enough to attend school. Call the school if you are in doubt. You can also ask yourself, "Can my child go through the day with minimal disruption to himself and others?" This may help you make a decision on one of those mornings when it is difficult to decide. By staying home when they are sick, children are helping themselves recuperate and are helping their peers stay healthy.