According to San Diego County's Health and Huamn Services agency, influenza activity is now widespread in San Diego County, as well as nationally. There has been a rapid increase in the number of locally reported cases over the past weeks.
School health personnel are well positioned to help prevent the spread of influenza. There are many respiratory infections that can spread from person-to-person and cause symptoms similar to influenza. The recommendations listed below may not only help reduce the spread of influenza, but other viruses and bacteria circulating in the community, as well.
Here are recommendations that can help keep your students and staff healthy through this influenza season.
Encourage students, parents, and staff to get a yearly influenza or “flu” vaccine.
Encourage students, parents, and staff to take everyday prevention steps.
- The seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, unless there is a contraindication determined by a medical provider.
- In addition, it is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that all health care personnel obtain the annual vaccination. This year’s seasonal flu vaccine is considered to be a good match with the circulating strains. The vaccine is safe and effective, and can help prevent severe complications and hospitalization due to influenza. Keep in mind, however, that no vaccine is 100% effective.
- Flu vaccines have a very good safety record. Hundreds of millions of Americans have received the vaccine over the years. The most common side effects are soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site. The flu vaccine cannot make you sick or give you the flu!
- Promote good respiratory etiquette. It is recommended that ill persons cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, or to cough into their elbows.
- Encourage good hand hygiene, which means hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- If soap and water is not available, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol may be used.
- Surfaces that are touched often should be routinely cleaned using the general cleaning products already in use and following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- These surfaces may include desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, any hands-on learning objects, faucet handles, and phones.
- Promote policies that encourage students and staff who are ill to stay home.
- Students who are ill with ILI should stay home until at least 24 hours after their fevers are gone (without the use of medicine).
- If a healthcare provider prescribes antiviral medication, students and staff should be encouraged to take it as prescribed and complete the course of medicine.