The Centers for Disease Control has released its guidance for parents and schools concerning flu, most notably H1H1 virus (www.Flu.gov). The CDC does not recommend early school closures for flu unless the virus becomes more dangerous or high absenteeism becomes a major factor in particular classrooms.
Preparing for this school year also means preparing for the flu. Here are some tips to help parents get ready:
- Develop a plan for how your child will be cared for if school is closed for a week or longer.
- Keep your child home from school with fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea, until symptoms have been gone for 24 hours (without fever-reducing medicines). Monitor other children in the home for fever and other symptoms of flu.
- Identify whether your children or other family members are at increased risk of flu complications. These include being under 5 years of age, having asthma or other heart or lung disease, diabetes, neuromuscular disorders, a weakened immune system, or being pregnant. You can talk to your doctor or your child’s teacher about actions that might keep your child safer during an outbreak, including studying from home if that is an option.
- Identify a separate room in the house for sick family members. Try to have only one person care for them. Learn how to care for someone with the flu, to recognize danger signs, and to take precautions to avoid infection yourself.
- Make sure you have the supplies you’ll need on hand: fever medicines (Tylenol, Ibuprofen); tissues; sanitizer; disinfectant or bleach; fever thermometer; cough drops; throat lozenges; water, sports drinks, or Pedialyte to prevent dehydration; face masks; disposable gloves; etc. Get these items now, before the flu hits our schools, as they may be in short supply when there’s a lot of illness.
- Wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. Keep hands away from eyes, nose, and mouth. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder; not into your hands.
Children can be vaccinated for seasonal flu fairly soon. But the pandemic vaccine may not be available before mid-October, and will require two shots, three to four weeks apart.