Parents and child care providers can help prevent and slow the spread of the flu. The flu (influenza) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Flu infections are highly contagious. They spread easily when children are in a group with other children such as in a child care center or family child care home.
Flu is more dangerous than the common cold for children and can lead to serious health conditions like pneumonia or bacterial infections. Each year many children are hospitalized and some die from the flu.
The following resources provide information on preventing the flu. Materials and tools for child care facilities are also included.
Flu Vaccine Information
The flu vaccine is the best way to protect against getting the flu. All people 6 months and older need a flu vaccine each year. Babies cannot get vaccinated until they are 6 months old. It is critical that people who live with or care for children, especially newborns and infants younger than 6 months, get vaccinated. Vaccinating adults who are around an infant to prevent illnesses is often referred to as "cocooning."
Protecting Children with Chronic Health Conditions
Children and adolescents with a chronic health condition, such asthma, heart disease, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system are at high risk for flu complications.
A few minutes killing germs can go a long way toward keeping you and those around you healthy. As adults, we know to wash our hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing, sneezing, or wiping noses. When you cough or sneeze, cough into your sleeve or arm or into a tissue. Be sure to dispose of the tissue and wash your hands. Parents and child care providers can do their part to kill germs and also teach young children how and when to wash their hands.
Preventing the Spread of Illness in Child Care
Young children who have just entered child care are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. This is because it may be the first time they have been exposed to certain germs. In addition, they may be too young to have received enough doses of recommended vaccines to have developed immunity.
There are steps that caregivers and teachers can take to prevent the spread of infection in child care.
How Sick is Too Sick?
When children are healthy, they can go to child care or school, and parents can go to work. Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to make sure everyone can continue to participate in these important activities. However, when a child feels too sick to participate in activities, or requires care beyond what the caregivers can provide without compromising their ability to care for other children, that child will need to stay home.
Additional Resources for Parents & Child Care Providers: