Get Vaccinated for Seasonal Flu Now!
Flu activity is elevated in the US. Getting vaccinated is still the single best way to protect against influenza and reduce the risk of illness as well as potential serious flu complications. Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, including all child care staff. It is recommended that everyone get vaccinated NOW if you have not already gotten a flu vaccine this season. Because young children easily pass on infections to classmates and others in the community, vaccination of every person in a child care setting is an essential step in protecting the public's health. Early estimates show that the influenza vaccine is doing a good job of reducing the risk of severe influenza infections. For more information, see the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) flu recommendations.
The National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness developed a new 1 minute animated video that emphasizes the importance of everyone receiving a flu vaccine every year, focusing on child care professionals and the children in their care.
Prevent the Spread of Germs
With widespread flu activity, it can be challenging to keep flu viruses and other germs from spreading. Staff and children should take steps to help prevent germs from spreading by coughing or sneezing into an elbow or shoulder, or into a tissue if it is available, followed immediately by washing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available.
Everyone should be encouraged to wash their hands often. Handwashing can help prevent illness. Learn more about when and how to wash your hands. It involves five simple and effective steps (wet, lather, scrub for 20-30 seconds, rinse, and dry). Regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand rub. Consider displaying educational materials in Head Start or early education and child care programs to encourage proper hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette.
If You Get Flu, There are Medications to Help
Certain prescription medicines can be used to treat flu illness. These medicines can shorten a person's flu illness, make it milder, and possibly prevent serious complications. Antiviral medicines can be given anytime during the illness, but they work best when begun during the first 2 days after symptoms start.
Antiviral medicines are recommended to treat flu among people who are at high risk of serious flu complications, are very sick, or are hospitalized with flu symptoms. Antiviral medicines can be given to children and pregnant women. Antivirals also can be used to treat otherwise healthy, non-high risk outpatients, even if they have received a flu vaccine this season, based on the health professional's clinical judgment. If you're at high risk of flu complications or are feeling really sick, talk with your doctor to see if antiviral medicines are indicated.
Ready Wrigley and Preparedness for Flu Season
The AAP worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a Ready Wrigley Activity Booklet on influenza. This book includes tips, activities, and stories to help families prepare for influenza. The book is designed for children 2 to 8 years of age. The Ready Wrigley Activity Book series is produced by the CDC Children's Preparedness Unit and CDC communication specialists. Child care professionals can print copies of the book for their center or share a link to the book with families.
Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools: A Quick Reference Guide (4th Edition)
This AAP manual is an invaluable resource that 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. The reference sheets can easily be copied to share information with parents.