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.