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What’s the Latest with the Flu? A Message for Caregivers & Teachers

2014-2015 Influenza Season:

With flu activity for the 2014-2015 season increasing, be sure that your Head Start or early education and child care program is prepared to respond once flu hits your community. Remember that 80% of all influenza illness generally occurs in January, February, and March each year.

Get your Flu Vaccine!

This year, one of the flu viruses that is causing illness in communities does not perfectly match the virus strains in the vaccine. This may lead to lower vaccine effectiveness against that virus (H3N2). The flu vaccine still offers some protection against H3N2, as well as protection against the other flu viruses expected to circulate later in the year. Some protection is better than no protection. Therefore, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) continues to recommend that all children 6 months and older (and their caregivers), who are eligible for influenza vaccination, be immunized against influenza as soon as possible.

Antiviral Treatment is an Important Second Line of Defense

As an important second line of defense, influenza antiviral treatment (for example, Tamiflu®) can lessen symptoms and shorten the time people are sick with the flu. It also may prevent serious flu complications. No child is too young to receive antiviral medicines for treatment. When someone has flu symptoms (list), families should check with their doctor early on in the illness to see if antiviral treatment is recommended.

Should a Child Be Excluded from Child Care?

Any child with respiratory symptoms (cough, runny nose, or sore throat) and fever should be excluded from their child care program. The child can return after the fever has resolved (without the use of fever-reducing medicine), the child is able to participate in normal activities, and staff can care for the child without compromising their ability to care for the other children in the group.

New Head Start Health Services Newsletter

A Head Start Health Services Newsletter was released in December 2014 titled "Preventing and Managing the Flu". These newsletters provide best practices and updates for the Office of Head Start and tips for supporting staff and engaging families. Head Start health managers and other early childhood professionals are encouraged to subscribe, use, and share these resources.

Free Online Training Module

To help prepare your Head Start or early education and child care program, consider taking the free 1-hour AAP/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) online course "Influenza Prevention & Control: Strategies for Early Education & Child Care Providers". This course educates staff who work in Head Start and other early education and child care programs about influenza policies and strategies that help keep children healthy. The course is approved for 1.0 contact hour.

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Published
12/12/2014 12:00 AM