Calling all flu fighters: Resources for understanding, preventing, and fighting
Note: The following information is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019) in an effort to minimize the impact of influenza.
Here’s what we know about flu
Influenza or flu is an extremely contagious respiratory disease caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Its rapid onset can include symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
Flu is spread mainly by droplets made when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks. The droplets land in the mouths or noses of nearby people, spreading the illness from one person to another. The illness can also spread by touching something that has the virus on it—a toy, door handle, smart phone, or table top, for example—and then touching the nose, mouth, or eyes.
Flu is BAD, especially for children, older people, and anyone with compromised immune systems. At least 80% of influenza-related deaths occur among 2 age groups: children from 6 months to 8 years and adults 65 and older.
Illness from the flu can vary from mild to severe and young children, especially those with other long-term health issues (like diabetes or asthma) are at higher risk of complications including pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections.
Flu prevention works. Vaccinations, effective hygiene, and anti-flu medication reduce both flu-related deaths and the severity of individual infections.
The U.S. flu season is just beginning. It can last until May with peak infections hitting between December and February.
The time is NOW to plan for helping children understand the illness, instituting more thorough and routine sanitation practices, and reminding parents of your program’s policies for hygiene and sick-child exclusion.
The following resources serve as a guide for teachers, program administrators, and parents seeking additional flu-related facts and information.
Flu prevention resources
The CDC’s Flu Guide, www.cdc.gov/flu/
This is an overview of influenza, its spread, symptoms, and CDC recommendations. It includes a short video on how the flu virus is spread and infects.
Emergency Flu Symptoms, www.verywellhealth.com/when-you-should-go-to-the-hospital-with-the-flu-770306
Pay attention to particular symptoms such as difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and chest pain or severe abdominal pain. These symptoms may indicate a need to go to the hospital. Check out all symptoms and more information.
Flu Prevention, www.healthyessentials.com/wellness-solutions/cold-flu-prevention-tips
Prevent the flu to the best of your ability by taking certain key steps such as vaccinating and keeping your hands and common surfaces clean.
Flu prevention hygiene resources
These resources recap the importance of hand-washing and coughing hygiene for adults in primary care institutions and programs.
Hand Hygiene: Why, How & When? www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Hand_Hygiene_Why_How_and_When_Brochure.pdf
Proper Hand Hygiene for Infection Prevention, www.halyardhealth.com/hai-watch/hai-threats-solutions/hand-hygiene.aspx
Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette in Healthcare Settings, www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/infectioncontrol/resphygiene.htm
Designed primarily for health care professionals, the information on cough etiquette is easy to use and easy to share with children.
Prevent flu! Get a Flu Vaccine and Take Preventative Action, https://youtu.be/QvyaE_eXDJU
A short, energetic video clip that covers standard flu-prevention actions.
Information guides for schools, early care and education programs, and parents
How to Clean and Disinfect Schools to Help Slow the Spread of Flu, www.cdc.gov/flu/school/cleaning.htm
This is a concise guide that is consistent with child care program protocols.
Keep Flu Out of School: A Resource Toolkit, www.nfid.org/toolkits/keep-flu-out-of-school-toolkit/
This guide includes games and activities appropriate for children pre-K through primary grades.
The Flu: A Guide for Parents, www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/family/flu-guide-for-parents-2018.pdf
A resource for teachers of young children
Teaching Children About the Flu: Lesson Plans and Activities for Child Care and Early Childhood Programs. www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/updated/teachingchildrenflu.pdf
This 35-page guide includes background information to share with children, as well as lesson plans and activities focused on proper hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and how germs spread. There are also posters to reproduce and handouts to share with families. Use the coloring pages thoughtfully, or skip them in favor of more active lessons.
Most of these resources can be reproduced and shared with families. Many are also available as .pdf files in languages other than English.