- Flu Facts
- Flu Prevention
How to Keep Kids Healthy This Back-to-School Season
As the back-to-school season approaches, we know that parents are not only preparing their kids for new classrooms but are also thinking about the health and well-being of their children. The flu is an ongoing concern, but the beginning of a new school year is a great time to take proactive steps to ensure that kids stay healthy and protected.
At Families Fighting Flu, our mission is to educate families about the seriousness of influenza and the vital importance of annual vaccination. Below, we explore some of the ways you can keep your kids healthy and safe during this back-to-school season.
Prioritize Annual Flu Vaccination
One of the most effective ways to protect your child from the flu is through an annual flu vaccination. The flu virus can change from year to year, and the vaccine is updated accordingly to provide optimal protection and flu prevention. Annual vaccination not only reduces the risk of infection but also helps prevent severe complications and hospitalizations.
Recognize Child Flu Symptoms
While common flu symptoms, including fever, chills, cough, runny nose, congestion, and sore throat, can be similar in adults and children, the severity of flu symptoms in children can vary drastically. This is compounded by the fact that children are in generally close quarters at school so any minor symptoms that would tell of a potentially bigger illness may be passed on before the illness is diagnosed.
Additionally, more severe symptoms such as muscle or body aches, fatigue, and even vomiting or diarrhea can escalate quickly. If your child exhibits any of these flu symptoms, it’s best to have them stay home from school so that they can recover and prevent the spread of the virus.
Stop the Flu by Practicing Good Hygiene Habits
Good hygiene habits are lifetime skills. Teaching children these practices today can significantly reduce their risk of getting sick in the future. Encourage them to wash their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or their elbow when they cough or sneeze, and avoid touching their face with unwashed hands. These simple tips can make a world of difference when it comes to preventing the spread of the flu in school, as well as other illnesses.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
We know a well-balanced diet isn’t always the most fun diet to get your kids to eat but a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help support your child’s immune system. Nutrient-rich foods provide the vitamins and minerals necessary to keep their bodies strong and resilient against infections. Consider incorporating extra fruits and veggies in creative ways. Add vegetables to a sandwich or wrap, blend them into a smoothie, soup, or sauce, or try to mix them into a tasty stir-fry.
Ensure Adequate Sleep
While sleep schedules may have been altered during more lenient summer months, adequate sleep is essential for a strong immune system and it’s important to ensure your children get the recommended amount of sleep for their age. Now that you’re back into a regular school-year routine, try to establish a consistent sleep schedule. A well-rested body is better equipped to fight off illnesses like the flu.
Regular physical activity not only promotes overall health but also boosts the immune system. Encourage your child to participate in age-appropriate activities that keep them active and engaged. Whether it’s playing sports, riding bikes, or dancing, staying active contributes to their well-being, ultimately allowing their bodies to better fight off illness.
Avoid Close Contact with Sick Individuals
While social interactions are crucial for development, maintaining a bit of distance when someone is under the weather can help prevent the spread of illnesses. Teach your child to avoid close contact with classmates or friends who are sick.
Flu viruses can survive on surfaces for a significant amount of time. Regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, and electronic devices to minimize the risk of exposure.
Stay informed about flu activity in your area. Follow updates from reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to understand the current flu season‘s severity and recommendations.
Set a Positive Example
As a parent, you play a crucial role in modeling healthy behaviors. Getting vaccinated early, practicing good hygiene habits, and prioritizing your family’s health sets an example that your children are more likely to follow.
As you prepare your children for the upcoming school year, remember that their health is a top priority. The flu can be a serious illness, but by taking proactive steps like getting an annual flu vaccination, practicing good hygiene habits, and staying informed, you can help protect your kids and prevent the spread of the virus.
Learn More About Fighting the Flu
Families Fighting Flu educates about the seriousness of influenza and the importance of annual vaccination so that no one suffers serious flu complications or death. Learn more about our mission and resources here and empower your family to stay healthy this back-to-school season.