When kids get together, they share toys, secrets, and germs. As children return to school with COVID outbreaks happening more frequently and fiercely, parents and teachers need to be especially vigilant. Outbreaks of viruses that spread through the air, like COVID and the flu, are of greater concern as we head into cooler weather and all spend more time indoors.
How to Tell the Difference
The symptoms of COVID and the flu can be very similar. In fact, the best way to determine if it is COVID or the flu is with a COVID test.
Prevention Strategies for Both
When children are exposed to and infected with respiratory pathogens outside the home, such as in school or childcare settings, they can then transmit the virus to other members of the family. Parents and people who work with children should remember crucial prevention strategies:
- Make sure you are current on your vaccines for vaccine-preventable illnesses to include flu, COVID-19, and pertussis
- Stay home when you are sick—this includes staying home from work, school, and errands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, as germs can spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
The Importance of a Flu Shot
Typically, influenza causes more hospitalizations among young children than any other vaccine preventable disease. The single best way to protect against seasonal flu and its potential severe complications is for children to get an influenza vaccine each year. Flu vaccination is recommended for all children aged 6 months and older. Making healthy choices at school and at home can help prevent the flu and spreading flu to others.