Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November Flu Update

H1N1 influenza virus is still affecting many schools across the world. School age children have been disproportionately affected by this virus, so staying informed is critical for both teachers, school officials, and parents.

What You Can Do to Stay Healthy

Stay informed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is maintaining an information portal on H1N1 flu. Also, check your state's Department of Public Health website for more localized information on the spread of the virus. Another informative website is the Centers for Disease Control's website which maintains the latest online information on the outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the H1N1 vaccine for the following groups:
  • pregnant women
  • people who live with (or care for) children younger than 6 months old
  • kids and young adults between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old
  • people ages 25 to 64 with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems
  • health care and emergency services personnel

The H1N1 vaccine does not protect against seasonal flu, so it's also important that kids also get the seasonal flu vaccine as well.

Take everyday actions to stay healthy.
Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
  1. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  4. Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  5. Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
  6. Call 1-800-CDC-INFO for more information.
Find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
Not only are you worried about the spread of this virus, but chances are that depending on your child's age, she/he is aware that people all over the world are being affected.
  1. The American Psychological Association has a great article on managing your anxiety about H1N1.
  2. The National Association of School Nurses has released an article for parents on how to talk to your children about the flu. It includes tips on what is age-appropriate information to share and suggested points to emphasize.
Here are some more links for you to get more information about this virus:
  1. What Parents Need to Know - from WebMD
  2. Centers for Disease Control
  3. Official H1N1 Information - from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services

Remember, it is never too early to teach your children good hygiene. Here is a simple 1-2-3 "Hands, Mouth and Table Game" to teach your children healthy habits that will help keep them well.