Get Vaccinated for Seasonal Flu Now!
Flu activity is increasing in the United States, as usually happens at this time of year. It's vitally important that everyone – children and staff alike – in your Head Start, early education and child care program is protected against the flu. With family and friends gathering for the holidays, now is the perfect time to remind everyone to get vaccinated for influenza because most influenza illnesses occur in January, February, and March.
As of December 20, 2017, there have already been 8 flu-related deaths in children reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaccination remains the most important step in being protected against influenza and its complications. All child care providers should get the flu vaccine and strongly encourage all others to do the same.
Prevent the Spread of Germs
With flu activity increasing during the winter months, as it does every year, the challenge is to keep these flu germs from spreading. Staff members and children should be taught to cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when they cough or sneeze (and then put the tissue in the trash right away). Staff members and children should also be taught to cough or sneeze into their elbow/upper sleeve and to avoid covering the nose or mouth with bare hands.
Then, everyone should be encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Consider displaying educational materials in Head Start or early education and child care programs to encourage proper hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette. "The Flu: A Guide for Parents", "Everyday Preventive Actions that can Help Fight Germs, Like Flu", and "Teaching Children About the Flu" are examples of free materials available on the CDC Print Materials Web page.
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.
Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools: A Quick Reference Guide (4th Edition)
AAP manual provides child care directors, teachers, and caregivers with important information about the prevention and management of influenza and other infectious diseases that circulate in group care settings. The guide contains helpful reference guides, including quick reference sheets on specific conditions or diseases. Detailed chapters address infection control measures, immunizations, and inclusion/exclusion criteria.
Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org: