Flu Virus Circulation
Flu activity is finally winding down for this season. Seasonal flu viruses are detected year-round, but are most common during the fall and winter. Flu viruses can continue to circulate at low levels during the summer.
Make the Right Choice: Get the Flu Vaccine
Receiving a flu vaccine each year remains the single best and most important step in protecting children and their caregivers from the flu and its related complications. Children 6 months through 8 years need 2 doses (4 weeks apart) the first time they receive flu vaccine to reach full immunity. Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, including all staff who work in early care and education facilities.
Please take a moment to view this 1 minute animated video that emphasizes the importance of caregivers and children receiving the flu vaccine every year. Early care and education providers are also encouraged to share this video.
For the upcoming 2019-2020 season, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending that all children 6 months of age and older receive the flu vaccine. Early care and education providers should lay the groundwork now to encourage all moms (and their families) to get flu vaccine ever year.
Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women, so emphasize the importance of all pregnant women receiving the flu vaccine during each pregnancy. The CDC recommends that pregnant women get a flu shot during any trimester of their pregnancy (if they haven't already received the flu vaccine that influenza season) to protect themselves and their babies from flu. Pregnant mothers pass antibodies to their developing babies, which helps protect the new baby from flu after birth.
Preparing for Next Flu Season
It is never too early to prepare for next flu season. Below are steps you can take this summer:
Examine and revise your program's written plan for seasonal flu.
Schedule flu prevention education for program staff. Review policies on immunizations; hand washing; cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting surfaces and toys; and excluding (sending home) children who are sick.
Display educational materials to encourage vaccination, good hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette.
Help families understand the important roles they play in reducing the spread of flu.
Develop flyers or messaging to encourage all staff, children, and parents to receive the flu vaccine as soon as vaccine is available in their community, preferably by the end of October. Though flu seasons vary in timing from season to season, getting vaccinated in early fall helps ensure that staff, children, and parents are protected before flu activity begins to increase.
Encourage parents to talk with their child's pediatrician about a plan for children with chronic medical conditions to receive the seasonal flu vaccine as soon as it is available and to have these children evaluated early if they ever develop a flu-like illness.
Consider requiring flu vaccine for all early care and education workers and children who attend your early care and education program, even if your state does not require it. This will not only help to prevent flu infections, but it will also reduce the spread within the classroom. To increase immunization rates with your staff, consider providing incentives for getting a flu vaccine (e.g., gift card, paid time off).
Update your program's family contact information and child records, so parents can be reached quickly if they need to pick up their sick child.
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.