Back-to-school time means new school supplies, new routines, and fun with classmates. Unfortunately it also means the sharing of nasty germs! So often we hear “it’s just the flu,” but flu is a potentially serious disease, even for healthy children. At Families Fighting Flu, we know all too well just how serious flu can be. Our stories illustrate the devastating impacts of this vaccine-preventable disease.
A deadly disease
Emma was a healthy, happy six year old when her flu illness led to cardiac complications resulting in her untimely death. At 12 years old, Ayla’s flu illness led to hospitalization and serious medical complications that she still deals with today. Nine-year-old Brandon came home sick from school one day and just a few days later lost his life to flu. These stories remind us that we all must be vigilant about flu prevention, especially in schools.
So what can we do as parents, teachers, and school administrators to help keep flu out of school? It really is as simple as 1-2-3!
- Get vaccinated against the flu each and every year! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend annual flu vaccination for everyone six months and older — that means students, teachers, and parents, too! Flu vaccination is the best defense we have against the flu. Children are susceptible to flu, and flu vaccination has been found to prevent flu-related deaths by up to 51 percent in children with high-risk conditions (i.e., underlying medical conditions) and up to 65 percent in children without high-risk conditions.
- Practice healthy habits! We know schools are a breeding ground for germs. Help keep students healthy by routinely cleaning hard surfaces with an appropriate disinfectant, and encourage students to wash their hands throughout the day as well as practice the elbow cough. These same guidelines apply at home, too!
- Use antiviral medications as prescribed by a trusted healthcare professional if your child does become ill with flu. These medications may help prevent serious flu complications and work best if taken within 48 hours of the onset of illness. And keep your child home from school if they are ill to prevent them from spreading flu to others.
It’s up to you
Flu prevention helps keep our children, families, schools, and communities healthy! Studies have shown that increasing annual flu vaccination rates amongst school-aged children can help reduce flu illnesses within our communities (i.e., the more people that are vaccinated, the less flu can spread). We want children to stay healthy so they can keep learning at school and participating in their extracurricular activities. At Families Fighting Flu, we encourage everyone to do their part in helping to keep our schools and communities flu-free! To learn more about flu and flu vaccination, visit www.familiesfightingflu.org.
Serese Marotta, Chief Operating Officer, Families Fighting the Flu, [email protected]