On Jan. 7, most Atlanta students returned to school after a long and relaxing winter break. However, the timing couldn’t be any worse. A total of 41 states, including Georgia, now report widespread flu activity and 18 children have died from the flu virus. With students across the country returning to classrooms, the flu outbreak could worsen in the days and weeks to come.
To combat the outbreak, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is taking extra precautions to keep patients safe. As of Jan. 7, no visitor under the age of 12 is allowed in the Intensive Care Unit. Plus, hospital workers will screen any visitors who are coughing or sneezing before they’re allowed to visit patients.
The best protection against the flu is to get the flu vaccine, and it's not too late. It takes about two weeks for protection to develop after the shot. In the meantime, you are still at risk for getting the flu.
The flu is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. It can cause mild to severe illness - and can even lead to death. If you think your child has the flu, visit CHOA’s website for an online flu assessment for parents.
According to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the flu vaccine is appropriate for everyone age six months and older and is safe for children. Everyone in the family must get vaccinated for the best defense against the flu. Children are at a greater risk than adults for serious flu complications.
In addition to getting the vaccine, good hand hygiene also help to stop the spread of flu germs.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Disinfect high-traffic surfaces (door handles, tabletops).
Now that school is back in session, it might be a wise idea to pack a bottle of waterless hand sanitizer in your child’s backpack. Your student might be more inclined to use it if he or she has a personal bottle, even though it's available in most classrooms.
If you suspect your child has the flu, be sure to keep the patient at home. This will reduce the spread of the virus to other students. A person with the flu is contagious until the symptoms are completely gone. This can take up to one week for adults and two weeks for children. People with the flu can return to work or school once their fever is gone for at least 24 hours, without using fever-reducing medicine.
To get answers for frequently asked questions about the flu, visit www.choa.org.
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