In the United States, the flu season is usually from fall through early spring. The peak of flu season has occurred anywhere from late November through March.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 4 main ways you and your family may keep from getting sick with the flu at school and at home:
- Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder; not into your hands.
- Stay home if you or your child is sick for 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 students at home means that they keep their viruses to themselves rather than sharing them with others.
- Get your family vaccinated for the flu as soon as vaccines are available.
The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against influenza as soon as vaccine becomes available in their community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection; it is expected that this protection will last through the influenza season and additional doses of vaccine will not be needed later in the season. Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine each year.
If your child is ill with the flu, call or take your child to a doctor right away if he or she has:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Has other conditions (like heart or lung disease, diabetes, or asthma) and develops flu symptoms, including a fever and/or cough.
Follow these steps to prepare for the flu during the school year:
- Plan for child care at home if your child gets sick or their school is dismissed.
- Plan to monitor the health of the sick child and any other children in the household by checking for fever and other symptoms of flu.
- Identify if you have children who are at higher risk of serious disease from the flu and talk to your healthcare provider about a plan to protect them during the flu season. Children at high risk of serious disease from the flu include: children under 5 years of age and those children with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma and diabetes.
- Identify a separate room in the house for the care of sick family members.
- Update emergency contact lists.
- Collect games, books, DVDs and other items to keep your family entertained if schools are dismissed or your child is sick and must stay home.
REMINDER - Students should not return to school after illness until their temperature has been normal for 24 hours.