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What’s the Latest With the Flu? A Message for Caregivers & Teachers

2016-2017 Influenza Season

Flu activity has been moderate so far this season and is expected to continue for several more weeks. As of March 7, ​there have been 40 flu-related deaths in children reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC recommends ongoing influenza vaccination as long as flu viruses are circulating. It is still recommended that everyone get vaccinated as soon as possible, if they have not already done so. The single best way to protect against influenza and reduce the risk of becoming sick from it is to get vaccinated. Influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, including child care staff. Vaccination of every person in a child care setting is a valuable step in protecting the health of children and staff.

Antiviral Treatment is an Important Second Line of Defense

Treatment of flu with antiviral drugs is an important second line of defense. Influenza antiviral treatment can lessen symptoms and shorten the time people are sick with the flu. Antiviral medications also may prevent serious flu complications. No child is too young to receive antiviral medicines for treatment.

Common flu symptoms include

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Diarrhea may be present among infants, young and school-aged children
  • Belly pain may be noted by school-aged children

When children have these symptoms, caregivers should check with their doctors and the parents of ill children should be encouraged to talk with their child’s pediatrician so that antiviral treatment could be offered, if indicated.

Practice Proper Cough and Sneeze Etiquette

Staff members and children should be taught to cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when they cough or sneeze OR cough into their elbow or shoulder (i.e., not into their hands). After coughing/sneezing, everyone should be encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water after coughing or sneezing. Consider displaying educational materials in the Head Start or early education and child care program to encourage proper hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette.

Ready Wrigley Preparedness for Flu Season

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) worked with the CDC to develop a newReady 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.

Free Online Training Course: Influenza Prevention and Control in Early Education and Child Care

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated its free online course, “Influenza Prevention and Control – Strategies for Early Education and Childcare 2016-2017.” 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, learners will be able to recognize the symptoms of influenza, explain how influenza is spread, discuss the importance of annual seasonal influenza immunization 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 recently updated AAP manual provides child care center directors, teachers, and caregivers with important information about the prevention and management of infectious diseases in group care settings. The manual contains helpful guides, including quick reference sheets on prevention of infectious diseases. Detailed chapters address infection control measures, immunizations, and inclusion/exclusion criteria.

Archived Webinar: Preparing Head Start/Child Care and Communities for Seasonal Influenza

In November 2016, the National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness held a webinar titled, “Preparing Head Start/Child Care and Communities for Seasonal Influenza“, to describe recommendations for this year’s influenza season, discuss why flu vaccination is important for everyone who works in Head Start and other child care programs to be vaccinated for flu, and share strategies that can be used in child care settings to prevent or control the spread of influenza. The recorded webinar, a collaborative effort of the AAP and the CDC, can be viewed here.

Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org:

​Additional Resources:

Treatment of flu with antiviral drugs is an important second line of defense. Influenza antiviral treatment can lessen symptoms and shorten the time people are sick with the flu. Antiviral medications also may prevent serious flu complications. No child is too young to receive antiviral medicines for treatment.

Published by HealthyChildren.org/American Academy of Pediatrics
3/8/2017 12:00 AM
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