Influenza (Flu) Information for Child Care Settings

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Influenza (Flu) Information for Child Care Settings (PDF)

Updated 7/15

On this page:
What is influenza (flu)?
What are the symptoms of flu?
How is the flu different from a cold?
How serious is flu in children?
Which children should get flu vaccine?
Should child care staff be vaccinated for flu?
What about children under 6 months of age?
What other things can be done to keep flu from spreading?

What is influenza (flu)?

Influenza (flu) is a respiratory disease caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. It can be mild, but is sometimes severe and at times can lead to death. It is not the same as the “stomach flu.”

What are the symptoms of influenza?

Flu symptoms include fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, extreme tiredness, and body aches. These symptoms come on quickly and can be severe keeping you in bed for several days.

How is the flu different from a cold?

A cold generally stays in the head while the flu brings body aches, fever, and extreme fatigue. A child with a cold will usually keep up his or her normal activities. A child with the flu will often feel too sick to play. Also, symptoms of flu usually come on very suddenly – a child will be okay one hour and ill the next hour.

How serious is influenza in children?

Unfortunately, we see complications of flu and flu-related deaths every year—including deaths and serious illness in children. Serious complications of flu occur most often in the elderly, in people with chronic health conditions, and in children under 5 years of age.

Which children should get flu vaccine?

Flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months. It is especially important for:

  • Children 6 months to 5 years old
  • All children with chronic diseases including:
    • Heart disease
    • Pulmonary disease, including asthma
    • Metabolic disease (diabetes)
    • A weakened immune system
    • Blood disorders
    • Long-term aspirin therapy
    • Nerological conditions (including epilepsy, cerebral palsy and disorders of the spinal cord or brain)

Should child care staff be vaccinated for flu?

Yes. Vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. It is especially important for those who care for children including child care workers, parents, and other household contacts. Find a flu vaccine clinic near you on our Vaccine Clinic Look-Up page.  

What about children under 6 months of age?

Children under 6 months of age are too young to receiveflu vaccine. However, to prevent the spread of the flu, close contacts and out-of-home caregivers should be vaccinated.

What other things can be done to keep flu from spreading?

  • Stay at home if you have flu-like symptoms. Encourage parents to keep children at home if they have any symptoms of flu.
  • Avoid exposing yourself to others who are sick with a flu-like illness.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze. And then throw the tissue away.
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve if you don't have a tissue.
  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based, waterless hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid sharing anything that goes into the mouth such as drinking cups and straws.
  • Frequently clean commonly touched surfaces (door knobs, refrigerator handles, phones, water faucets, toys, table surfaces).

 

Updated Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 09:54AM