Back to School Time: Pencils, Books, and the Flu
With school back in session, students will be sharing a lot more than just pencils and books, as about 1 in 3 children will likely get the flu this year.
Schools can provide an ideal environment for the spread of influenza – flu viruses can live on such surfaces as cafeteria tables, doorknobs and desks, and the virus can also be spread through coughing and sneezing.
So, while the start of the new school year is one of the busiest times of the year for teachers, getting vaccinated against influenza should be a top priority. Teachers can help prevent the spread of influenza in their classrooms by getting vaccinated.
Many schools were on the front lines when the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza strain began circulating last year. In many cases, the virus spread easily and resulted in outbreaks and school closings.
This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a universal influenza vaccination recommendation to include everyone 6 months of age and older. Additionally, the seasonal influenza vaccine will include the 2009 pandemic H1N1 strain, so only one vaccine is needed.
Influenza is a serious respiratory illness that is easily spread and can lead to severe complications, even death, for you or someone with whom you come in contact. Each year in the U.S., influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.
To help prevent influenza from spreading and to encourage influenza immunization, The American Lung Association, in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, is relaunching the Faces of Influenza program. This multiyear public awareness initiative helps Americans put a "face" on this serious disease and recognize annual influenza immunization as an important preventive measure to help protect themselves, their loved ones and their community every year. We all are "faces" of influenza and are at risk of contracting the virus.
To help keep yourself and your students healthy this year, get vaccinated as soon as vaccine is available in the late summer or early fall. Vaccination is safe and effective, and the best way to help prevent influenza and its complications.
Talk to your health care provider about getting immunized this season. For more information on the flu, vaccination and the Faces of Influenza initiative, visit www.facesofinfluenza.org.