December 24, 2009
As a parent, you do what you can to keep your child safe and healthy. This flu season is offering busy parents a challenge—a challenge in the form of the H1N1 flu. Having a child who is sick is never easy and always tugs on a parent’s heartstrings. But with this new flu, we are discovering that preparation and patience are good tools in battling this new challenge.
Experts are discovering that this particular virus is affecting young children at a higher rate than a seasonal flu. Therefore, it is important for parents to have information and resources accessible. This article will share tips on how you might prevent your family from getting the virus as well as tips on how to care for family members if they do become ill. We also focus on what your child care program can do.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends four main ways for protecting your family from the H1N1 virus. Talk with your child care provider to make sure they are doing taking the same steps:
- Practice good hand hygiene by having everyone wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners can be effective if you cannot wash your hands.
- Cover mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If there is not a tissue available, cough or sneeze into an elbow or shoulder; not into hands.
- Stay home if you or your child is sick until at least 24 hours after there is no longer a fever or signs of a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicine). Keeping sick children at home means that they keep their viruses to themselves rather than sharing them with others.
- Get vaccinated for seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu when vaccines are available.
A few steps you can take to prepare for the flu season include:
- Talk with your child care provider to determine what the plan is to handle flu cases as they arise.
- Determine whether or not any of your children fall in to the high risk category, and talk with your health care provider to determine how to prepare and care for these children. Keep in mind, with H1N1, children under the age of 5 and children with chronic medical conditions are considered high risk.
- Update your emergency contact information with your child care provider and/or child’s school. You want to make sure you can be reached if your child does become sick or your child care program or school needs to close because of the flu.
Symptoms to look for with the flu:
- Fever (not everyone will experience a fever)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting
If your child should come down with the flu, she should not go back to child care or school until 24 hours after the fever is gone. She could still share the virus with others during this time.
In addition to the above tip on preparation and prevention, here are some things your child care program can do to avoid spreading the flu:
- Encourage all program staff to get vaccinated for seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu according to CDC recommendations when vaccines become available.
- Remind staff to stay home and parents to keep a sick child at home when they have flu-like symptoms
- Perform a daily health check of children
- Move sick children to a separate, but supervised, space until their parents can take them home. Advise parents that children cannot return until at least 24 hours after their fever subsides (without the use of fever-reducing medicine)
- Send sick staff home immediately and advise them not to return until at least 24 hours after their fever subsides (without the use of fever-reducing medicine)
- Routinely clean surfaces and items that children frequently touch with their hands, mouths and body fluids, such as toys, diaper stations, chairs or playground equipment
- Encourage early medical screening for children and staff at higher risk of complications from flu
- Consult with the local health department and consider temporarily closing the early childhood program if flu transmission is high in the community
For more information on H1N1 for both families and child care programs visit:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention