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Prepare for the Upcoming Flu Season!

Special information to help Head Start and other early education and child care providers prepare for the flu season

August is a good time to prepare for the upcoming influenza (flu) season! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides helpful information in its new influenza handout and identifies the following steps for Head Start and other early education and child care programs:

Plan to Get Vaccinated as Soon as Flu Vaccine is Available

As you know, the flu virus easily spreads from one person to the next, and can cause serious illness that might result in hospitalization or even death. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and others. The AAP recommends annual seasonal influenza vaccine for all people 6 months and older. The best way to protect young children from getting infected is for all family members and people that surround the child to get immunized. This is called "cocooning," and it is especially important for adults who care for infants younger than 6 months, because they are too young to get the vaccine. Encourage all staff, children, and parents to get vaccinated for seasonal influenza as soon as vaccine is available.

Everyone needs a flu vaccine each year because immunity wears off over time and the strains in the vaccine often change from year-to-year in order to match the flu viruses expected to be circulating in the community. Consider what your program can do to help folks think ahead about flu vaccination.

Share a letter with parents. Encourage parents of children at high risk of influenza complications to talk with their child's pediatrician about a plan for the child to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine as soon as it is available and to treat these children early whenever they develop influenza-like illness.

Review Program Policies

Start by reviewing your program policies on hand washing; cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting; and excluding (sending home) children and caregivers who are sick.

Provide Educational Updates

Think ahead and schedule influenza prevention education for all staff. Encourage proper hand washing. Remind everyone about proper cough/sneeze behaviors, which includes teaching children to cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, to cough/sneeze into their inner elbow/upper sleeve, instead of coughing or sneezing into their bare hands. Explain how important this is in stopping the spread of germs.

Don't delay – start planning today!

Use the Resources Below to Enhance your Influenza Preparedness

For more information, e-mail the AAP at DisasterReady@aap.org.


Published
8/7/2015 12:00 AM
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