Now is the Time to Make Sure Everyone Is Vaccinated to Protect Against the Flu!
Looking for a creative, interesting way to remind folks to get vaccinated against flu now? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness developed this 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.
Flu activity is increasing. Getting vaccinated is the single best way to protect against influenza and reduce the risk of potentially serious complications from the flu. Do NOT wait to get the vaccine until influenza is widespread in your community. It takes a couple weeks for the immune system to develop enough protection, after receiving the flu vaccine.
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 pass on infections to others in the community, vaccination of every person in a child care setting is an incredibly valuable step in protecting the public's health. See the AAP flu recommendations.
Prevent the Spread of Germs
With flu activity increasing, the challenge is to keep these flu germs from spreading. Staff and children should cover their mouths and noses either with a tissue when they cough or sneeze (and then put the tissue in the trash right away) or by coughing/sneezing into their elbow or upper arm.
Everyone should be encouraged to wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub, if soap and water are not available. Handwashing can help prevent illness. It involves five simple and effective steps (wet, lather, scrub, 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.
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, especially 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 feeling really sick, talk with your doctor to see if antiviral medicines are indicated.
Ready Wrigley and Preparedness for Flu Season
Do you need a new resource to help parents and children understand? 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.