Executive Office of Health and Human Services Information for Parents about Influenza and Schools

Is influenza still a concern in Massachusetts?
Yes. Influenza, is also called “flu.” Flu, including the pandemic H1N1 kind, is expected to spread in Massachusetts this fall and winter. Flu is a cause of serious illness in thousands of people every year. It can be prevented with a vaccine (shot or nasal spray).
Why is this important?
Flu can be very serious, especially for children 5 years old and younger, and for children and adults with chronic health conditions that make them more likely to get sick with the flu. Children with the flu miss days of school, can cause parents to miss work, and can spread the flu
What can I do to keep my child from getting sick?

Get your child vaccinated (the flu shot or nasal spray). Vaccination is the best way to keep
your child from getting the flu. This year’s vaccine protects against both the pandemic H1N1 influenza and two other kinds of flu. Your child needs to be vaccinated this year, even if • Teach your children to wash their hands often. Washing with soap and hot water for at least
20 seconds is ideal (about as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice). • Teach your children to use hand sanitizer. Gels, rubs, and hand wipes all work well, as long
as they contain at least 60% alcohol. Watch small children using gels so they don’t swallow it. • Teach your children to cough or sneeze into their elbow—not their hands! Cover coughs
and sneezes with tissues or by coughing into the inside of their elbow. They should wash their hands after blowing their nose or coughing into a tissue. • Teach your children to avoid touching their nose, mouth or eyes. They should keep their

Is flu vaccine safe?
Yes. Flu vaccines are among the safest medications that are administered to people, including prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. Like any vaccine or medication, flu vaccine should be administered by trained health professionals who will determine which
What should I do if my child is sick?
Keep your child home. It is very important that your child does not go to school or other
places where they could spread the flu to other people, such as group childcare, after school • Call your doctor’s office and let them know your child’s symptoms. Your doctor will advise you whether you should come to the office. It is best to call the office first to avoid spreading flu to others at the doctor’s office. • Call your child’s school to notify them that your child is sick, and tell the school nurse if your child has flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough and/or sore throat. Keep your school nurse updated on your child’s medical condition. • Do not give your child or teenager (18 years of age or younger) aspirin or aspirin-containing products due to the rare but serious illness called Reye syndrome.
How long should I keep my child at home?
All individuals with flu symptoms should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no
longer have a fever, without using fever-reducing medicines. These medicines include
Motrin or Advil (ibuprofen), Tylenol (acetaminophen) or a store brand. For most children, this will be about 4 days. Use the Flu Symptom Checklist for Families and Schools as a guide. Schools are not allowed to accept a doctor’s note recommending a child with flu-like
symptoms return to school before the time period described above.
Is it safe (as far as flu is concerned) for my child to participate in sports?
Just like going to school, students should continue to play sports as long as they are not sick and do not have flu symptoms. While playing sports and engaging in other recreational activities, students should avoid sharing water bottles, sharing drinks, or sharing mouthpieces, which could result in transmission of flu and other illnesses.
Will my child’s school be closed if there is a case of flu?

School and public health officials will be focused on preventing the spread of flu in schools so that schools can stay open. They will closely follow the situation and will inform you in the unlikely event that your child’s school is closed. However, it is important to plan ahead. Talk to your family now to decide who would care for your child if school is closed. When school is closed, it is important that students not gather together at another place. They should stay home to avoid spreading the flu to other people.
What precautions are being taken at schools?
• School nurses and teachers will teach students about hand washing and covering coughs and • School faculty and staff will also stay home when sick with flu symptoms, cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, and wash their hands often. • School nurses will keep track of students who are sick with flu-like symptoms, so they can • Schools are cleaned regularly, especially where germs can spread, such as water fountains. • School nurses work closely with local and state public health authorities. • Some schools and local boards of health are planning for school located flu vaccination clinics to help protect students against the flu. Where can I get more information?
• Call your doctor, nurse or clinic, or your local board of health
• Massachusetts Department of Public Health website at mass.gov/flu
• Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at: www.cdc.gov/flu
For flu clinic, visit the MassPRO Public Flu Clinic Finder website at: http://flu.masspro.org/ or
Flu Symptom Checklist for Families and Schools
Updated August 27, 2010
The main symptoms of influenza (flu) include fever and cough and/or sore throat. Some
people also have a runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and feel tired. Some people also have diarrhea and vomiting. The most important thing that you can do to keep flu from spreading in the community is to keep your sick child at home when they are sick. SHOULD I KEEP MY CHILD HOME?
Yes No Has your child had a fever of 100 degrees or more in the past 24 Yes No Does your child have a cough OR sore throat?
If you answered YES to both questions above, keep your child home.
Your child has an influenza-like illness.

Yes No Has your child had a fever of 100 degrees or more in the past 24
Yes No Has your child had acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or If you answered NO to both questions above, your child can return to school.
If you answered YES to one of the questions above, your child CANNOT

return to school. Keep you child home for at least another day to observe for
additional symptoms. Then use the checklist questions again to decide whether you should continue to keep your child home.
Where can I find more information about influenza?

1) Go to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health influenza website: mass.gov/flu

2) A “Fever Fact Sheet” with information on how to take a temperature is also available.

Source: http://www.holbrook.k12.ma.us/www/holbrook_district/site/hosting/Announcements-embedded%20files/Flu-Guidelines-for-Parents.pdf

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