Fall 2013 Health Link Online

HealthLink Online

Uniting Children, Parents, Caregivers, and Health Professionals


Every fall, programs for children in groups face possible outbreaks of flu. Flu can be life-threatening. ECELS recommends that all early education and child care programs actively use measures to prevent this disease.

The best way to stop the spread of seasonal flu is to get flu vaccine as soon as it is available. Whether you get the shot or the nasal spray depends on your age, health condition and preference. The 2013 vaccines have either 3 or 4 strains of influenza virus material. If it is available, get the one with 4 strains. Both of the vaccines prepare your body to resist influenza.

Too many people believe myths about flu vaccine and about influenza. The vaccine does not give you influenza. It stimulates the immune system to recognize influenza viruses. While you might get a sore spot on your arm or feel a bit under the weather for a day or so, getting infected with disease-producing influenza is much worse. Influenza disease can make healthy people sick enough to miss months of work or school or worse. Sadly, each year thousands die from influenza. Flu vaccine could have prevented many of these severe illnesses and deaths.

Child care facilities should start promoting influenza vaccination in September and continue until everyone has received the vaccine or spring comes. With very few exceptions, everyone over 6 months of age should get annual flu vaccine.

In the fall, reinforce the value of practicing good hand hygiene and using an elbow or shoulder to catch a sneeze or cough. Flu viruses spread easily in group care settings. Adults and children in group care take the virus home and spread it in the community. Consider the risk that people who do not get flu vaccine pose to others while respecting their right to make individual decisions.

Act now for the 2013-14 influenza season.


Head lice are little insects that live and lay their eggs close to the scalp. They bite and then feed on blood they draw. They glue their eggs (nits) to the hair. The eggs must be within ¼ of an inch of the scalp to hatch. Small pieces of dandruff are often mistaken for lice eggs. Dandruff slides off hair easily. The tightly-glued eggs are very hard to remove. Combing to remove the lice and nits is tedious. Lice spread easily in group care settings, mostly by head-to-head contact.

Current versions of the ECELS Self-Learning Modules (SLMs) are on the ECELS website at www.ecels-healthychildcarepa.org. Sometimes, modules “on hand” at the facility are out of date. Periodically, ECELS updates the information in the SLMs. Users of the ECELS SLM must complete the version of the self-learning modules that are on the ECELS website to receive state-authorized professional development credit.

Everyone must sign up on the new ECELS website to continue to receive “E-Mail Alerts” from ECELS. The ECELS website address has not changed. It is www.ecels-healthychildcarepa.org. However, the software for the new website cannot accept the e-mail list from the old website.

Since moving to the new website, ECELS has temporarily used a separate system for e-mailing during a transition period.

Pennsylvania (PA) is giving high priority to environmental health in early learning programs. In 2010, the Heinz Endowments gave a generous grant to PA’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) for an environmental health initiative. The grant funds the PA Early Childhood Education (ECE) Healthy & Green Initiative.