Back to School Protection from H1N1 and Seasonal Flu

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The “official” start to flu season is still a couple of months away (November), but once kids go back to school, they will be more prone to illness than they were over the summer. Last year’s H1N1 scare has schools planning and preparing earlier this year than in the past, but parents and children should still take steps to protect themselves against the virus.

Flu is unpredictable, says the CDC, and sporadic cases, including both the 2009 H1N1 and seasonal flu virus, have continued throughout the summer, although at a much lower level than the peak late last year. Of course, the single best protection from getting the flu is the flu vaccine. The FDA has recently approved the 2010-2011 flu vaccine which will protect against three strains of the virus. It will be available later this fall.

Back To School Hygiene

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The next best way to prevent contracting and spreading the flu virus is through good hygiene. “The number one lesson to teach your child before they go back to school is that washing their hands regularly, especially before eating and after using the restroom, is the best way to stay healthy,” says Scott Porter, Kerr Drug’s Category Manager for Health Aids. "Parents should also remind children to always cover their nose and mouth with a tissue, shirt sleeve or elbow when coughing or sneezing.”

Kerr Drug, headquartered in Raleigh NC, offers the following instructions on how to assemble a “Back to School Backpack Health Kit”. The items cost less than $10, can fit easily into a pencil pouch (with the water bottle on the side of the back pack), and will last several months into the new school year.

1. Hand sanitizing gel – for small children, choose an alcohol-free version to prevent accidental ingestion.
2. Travel size pack of tissues
3. Small container of disposable, antiseptic wipes (check the trial size section of the store for small, cost-effective packages)
4. Reusable water bottle – remember to choose one that is BPA free
5. Lip balm
6. Comb or hair brush so your children don’t have to share (also helpful for the management of head lice)
7. Emergency contact information, allergy information, as a backup to the contacts in the school office.

More Back-to-School Tips for Parents:
Backpacks and Back to School Back Pain
Back to School Preparation Includes Health Insurance
Prevent Back to School Stress

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