It’s Elementary by Brandy Blanton

FLU Influenza (“the flu”) is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Each year, many children get sick with seasonal influenza; some of those illnesses result in death. Around 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of influenza complications each year. Children with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system are at especially high risk of developing serious flu complications. The single best way to protect your children from the flu is to get them vaccinated each year. A flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing. It is not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. The flu vaccine is formulated each year to keep up with the flu viruses as they change. Getting vaccinated each year provides the best protection against influenza throughout the flu season. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season.

Children should be vaccinated as soon as the flu vaccine becomes available. It is good practice to get your child vaccinated as soon as the flu vaccine become available in your community so that your child will be protected by the time the flu season starts. However, even getting your child vaccinated in December or later can be protective because the influenza season can last as late as May. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and for protection to develop against the influenza virus infection.

There are special vaccination instructions for children aged 6 months through 8 years of age. Some children 6 months through 8 years of age require 2 doses of the influenza vaccine. Children in this age group who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses. Some children who have received influenza vaccine previously will also need two doses. Your child’s health care provider can tell you whether two doses are recommended for your child. The first dose should be given as soon as the vaccine becomes available. The second dose should be given at least 28 days after the first dose. The first dose “primes” the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of the flu vaccine.

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs. • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way. • Try to avoid close contact with sick people. • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

UPCOMING EVENTS: •December 12th – Last day to purchase a “Candy Gram” for your child – they will be delivered to the student’s class on December 14th. This is another fundraiser for Relay for Life • December 13th-14th – 9 weeks test • December 19th – Relay for Life Bake Sale ( Send students with money to purchase baked goods this day) • December 20th – 60% day of school • December 21st – January 7th – Christmas Holidays.