Action Steps for Parents to Protect Children and Family from the Flu this School Year
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 4 main ways you and your family may keep from getting sick with the flu at school and at home:
PRACTICE GOOD HAND HYGIENE by washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
COVER YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder; not into your hands.
STAY HOME IF YOU OR YOUR CHILD IS SICK for at least 24 hours after there is no longer a fever or sign of a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicine). Keeping sick students at home means that they keep their viruses to themselves rather than sharing them with others.
GET YOUR FAMILY VACCINATED for seasonal flu when vaccines are available.
Follow these steps to prepare for the flu during the school year:
- Plan for child care at home if your child gets sick or their school is dismissed.
- Plan to monitor the health of the sick child and any other children in the household by checking for fever and other symptoms of flu.
- Identify if you have children who are at higher risk of serious disease from the flu and talk to your healthcare provider about a plan to protect them during the flu season. Children at high risk of serious disease from the flu include: children under five years of age and those children with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma and diabetes.
- Identify a separate room in the house for the care of sick family members.
- Update emergency contact lists at school.
- Collect games, books, DVDs and other items to keep your family entertained if schools are dismissed or your child is sick and must stay home.
Is It a Cold or the Flu?
Your child is sent home from school with a sore throat, cough, and high fever -- could it be the flu that's been going around? Or just a common cold?
Although the flu (or influenza) usually causes symptoms that make someone feel worse than symptoms associated with a common cold, it's not always easy to tell the difference between the two.
Flu vs. Colds: A Guide to Symptoms
Was the onset of illness ...
Does your child have a ...
no (or mild) fever?
Is your child's exhaustion level ...
Is your child's head ...
Is your child's appetite ...
Are your child's muscles ...
Does your child have ...
If most of your answers fell into the first category, chances are that your child has the flu. If your answers were usually in the second category, it's most likely a cold.
But don't be too quick to brush off your child's illness as just another cold. The important thing to remember is that flu symptoms can vary from child to child (and they can change as the illness progresses), so if you suspect the flu, call the doctor. Even doctors often need a test to tell them for sure if a person has the flu or not since the symptoms can be so similar!
Some bacterial diseases, like strep throat or pneumonia, also can look like the flu or a cold. It's important to get medical attention immediately if your child seems to be getting worse, is having any trouble breathing, has a high fever, has a bad headache, has a sore throat, or seems confused.
While even healthy kids can have complications of the flu, kids with certain medical conditions are at more of a risk. If you think your child might have the lfu, contact your doctor.
Visit these websites for more information on the flu and flu vaccines:
- http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm (Misconceptions about Seasonal Influenza and Influenza Vaccines. Q & A.)