Get Vaccinated for Seasonal Flu Now!
Influenza activity in the US is decreasing. Getting vaccinated is still the single best way to protect against influenza. Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, including all child care staff. It is recommended that everyone get an influenza vaccination NOW if you have not already been vaccinated this season. Because young children often spread influenza to household members and others in the community, influenza vaccination of every person in a child care setting is an incredibly valuable step in protecting the public's health. As of March 3, there have been 119 influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Prevent the Spread of Germs
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). 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.
If You Get Influenza, Antiviral Drugs May Be an Option
Influenza antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that are used to treat influenza. They can shorten a person's influenza illness, make it milder, and can help prevent some influenza-associated complications. Antivirals work best when started during the first 2 days after symptoms begin. Antiviral drugs are recommended to treat influenza, especially those who are at high risk of serious flu complications, are very sick, or are hospitalized. Antivirals can be given to children and pregnant women. Some manufacturers of antiviral medications have reported delays in filling orders and the CDC is aware of spot shortages of antiviral drugs in some places experiencing high influenza activity. Patients seeking to fill an influenza antiviral prescription may want to call ahead to make sure their pharmacy has product on the shelf to fill their prescription. It may be necessarily to call more than one pharmacy to locate these medications. For more information, see CDC Antiviral Drug Supply Web page.
Free Online Training Course: Influenza Prevention and Control in Early Education and Child Care
The AAP has a free online influenza-focused training course titled, "Influenza Prevention and Control - Strategies for Early Education and Childcare 2017-2018". The 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. Upon completion of the course, users will be able to recognize the symptoms of influenza, explain how influenza is spread, discuss the importance of annual seasonal influenza vaccination with parents and peers, and much more. This course is approved for 1.0 contact hour.
Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools: A Quick Reference Guide (4th Edition)
This 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. Information within this manual can be used to implement new strategies within the center.
Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org: