What’s the Latest With the Flu? A Message for Caregivers and Teachers


The 2015-2016 influenza season (flu) is here. As you know, influenza infection can be serious, resulting in hospitalization or death of some children every year. Influenza immunization is the best strategy to reduce infection and spread. Therefore, it’s critically important for everyone to get vaccinated for seasonal influenza now. This important approach puts the health and safety of everyone in the child care setting first.

Annual influenza vaccine is recommended for all people 6 months of age and older. The best way to protect young children from getting infected is for all family members and people who take care of the child to get immunized. This is called “cocooning”, and it is especially important for adults who care for infants younger than 6 months, because these children are too young to get vaccinated.

Pregnant caregivers are at higher risk of severe illness from influenza. Flu shots may be given to pregnant women at any time during pregnancy. The vaccine will protect expecting mothers and their unborn babies, and will help protect their newborn baby in the first few months of life.

This Season’s Flu Vaccine

The flu vaccine includes either 3 strains (trivalent) or 4 strains (quadrivalent). These are the strains that are anticipated to circulate around the US this flu season.

The trivalent vaccine protects against 1 strain from last year and 2 new strains. These are:

  • Influenza A (H1N1)
  • Influenza A (H3N2)
  • Influenza B

The quadrivalent vaccine protects against the 3 strains from the trivalent vaccine and adds a different influenza B strain (the same as last season). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend one vaccine over another this season. Just be sure everyone gets immunized!

Prepare Ahead to Prevent the Spread of Germs

Once flu starts circulating, it can be challenging to keep germs from spreading. While you can catch the flu any time of the year, the virus is most common in the US between October and May and usually peaks around January, February, and March.  It is also hard to know whether children or caregivers actually have the flu. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.

Policies in your child care center can limit the spread of the influenza virus and should focus on hand washing; cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting surfaces and toys; and excluding children and caregivers who are sick. Any child with respiratory symptoms (cough, runny nose, or sore throat) and fever should be excluded from their child care program. The child can return after the fever has resolved (without the use of fever-reducing medicine), the child is able to participate in normal activities, and staff can care for the child without compromising their ability to care for the other children in the group.

Take Steps NOW to Help Your Program Prepare

  • Encourage all staff, children, and parents to get the flu vaccine now. Everyone needs a flu vaccine each year!
  • Get on the list to receive details about the AAP influenza webinar to be scheduled for November 2015. E-mail DisasterReady@aap.org for information and a calendar appointment.
  • Complete the free AAP/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online course “Influenza Prevention & Control: Strategies for Early Education & Child Care Providers”.
  • Help families and community leaders understand the important roles they play in reducing the spread of flu. Review the new handout “Influenza Prevention and Control: Strategies for Early Education and Child Care Programs” and plan to distribute a customized letter to parents about influenza prevention and control practices in your program.
  • Examine and revise your program’s written plan for seasonal flu.
  • Invite a pediatrician or child care health consultant to provide influenza prevention education to your staff.
  • Use posters and handouts to educate caregivers and staff about proper hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette.
  • Update family contact information and child records, so parents can be reached quickly if they need to pick up their sick child.

Additional Resources:

  • AAP Preparing Child Care Programs for Pandemic and Seasonal Influenza
  • AAP Preventing the Flu: Resources for Parents and Child Care Providers
  • AAP Caring for Our Children National Health and Safety Performance Standards
  • AAP Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools: A Quick Reference Guide
  • CDC Fact Sheet No More Excuses: You Need a Flu Vaccine!
  • CDC Flu Information – Free Print Materials
  • Head Start Emergency Preparedness Manual: 2015 Edition
  • Public Health Emergencies Chapter on Page 27
  • Influenza Prevention and Control Appendix on Page 65
  • Families Fighting Flu Web Site
  • Prevent Childhood Influenza Web Site

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, HealthyChildren.org

Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org:443/English/news/Pages/Whats-the-Latest-with-the-Flu-A-Message-for-Caregivers-and-Teachers.aspx

Measles – What Early Childhood Programs Should Know


Childhood diseases like measles can cause children pain and discomfort. They can result in doctor visits, hospitalization, and even premature death. Nothing protects young children better from serious diseases, like measles and whopping cough, than immunizations.

The Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Head Start (OHS) and Office of Child Care (OCC) believe it is critical that all children in Head Start and child care programs are vaccinated according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination schedules.

Vaccination requirements for children entering child care programs vary by state. The CDC School and Childcare Vaccination Surveys page has information on each state’s vaccination requirements.

In addition to state entrance requirements for child care, Head Start programs are required to help all children in their care in getting up to date. These efforts have resulted in 97 percent of Head Start children being current on their immunizations.

It is important to note, that to be fully immunized, children need all doses of the vaccines according to the recommended schedule. Not receiving the full number of doses leaves a child vulnerable to catching serious diseases.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, National Center on Health

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/health/health-services-management/program-planning/measles.html

Head Start Health Services Newsletter: Preventing and Managing the Flu



Seasonal influenza (flu) is now active in the United States. The flu virus may cause serious illness that may result in hospitalization or death. The flu mostly affects the respiratory system (ears, nose, throat and lungs), but may also affect the whole body. The flu season usually starts in the fall and ends in the spring, although each year is different. People can get the flu more than once per year and many times in their lives. Influenza viruses are un- predictable, so it’s wise to do everything possible to protect yourself, fellow Head Start staff, and chil- dren in your program!

Healthy people can get very sick and sometimes die from influenza. It also is important to remember that the flu may make some people more sick than others. These people include children younger than 2 years of age, adults 65 and older, pregnant wom- en, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as: asthma, diabetes mellitus, hemodynami- cally significant cardiac disease, immunosuppres- sion, or neurologic and neurodevelopmental disor- ders. This is why vaccination remains the most im- portant step in protecting all of us against influenza and its complications. The flu vaccine is safe, does not cause the flu, and helps prevent spreading the flu from person to person.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/health/docs/health-services-newsletter-201412.pdf

Mikulski, Burr, Harkin, Alexander Introduce Bipartisan Reauthorization of Child Care and Development Block Grant to Help American Families Access Safe, Affordable, Quality Child Care


U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, was joined today by Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chairman of the HELP Committee, and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member of the HELP Committee, to announce that they have introduced the bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2013, which reauthorizes and updates the CCDBG program. This program helps low and moderate income parents access and afford child care while they work or attend school.

“Every working parent with children, no matter their income level, worries about child care,” Senator Mikulski said. “What’s affordable? What’s accessible? Will my child be safe? Where can I get the very best care for my kid? The CCDBG program is supposed to give parents peace of mind. And for many families over many years, it has. But we can and should be doing more to improve child care for children, parents, and providers alike. It is long past time to revitalize, refresh and reform this vitally important program.”

“When parents leave their children in the care of someone else, they want to know their children are in a safe place with qualified providers. The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is an important federal program to ensure that low-income parents have access to child care so that they can work. Since its creation, the CCDBG program has experienced many  positive developments that have boosted the quality of federally-subsidized child care,” said Senator Burr. “Tragically, incidents of child abuse and endangerment have occurred in these day care facilities, and it’s time Congress acts to assure parents and taxpayers that these children are in a safe place. The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2013 is bipartisan, commonsense legislation that updates this law to reflect these realities. And most importantly, I am very pleased that this legislation includes my bill to require criminal background checks for all child care providers, an important step in protecting America’s children.”

“I am pleased to join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort to improve CCDBG. I am especially excited about the new focus on providing access to quality early childhood care and education,” said Chairman Harkin. “This is an evidence-based approach to closing the readiness gap for low-income children, giving them a fair shot at success when they enter school. We know that these are smart investments for our children, our families, and the future of our country.”

“Access to quality child care can make all the difference in a child’s early years, and this program has helped nearly 30,000 Tennessee families not only afford to enroll their children in child care, but be able to choose the type of care that’s best for their family,” Senator Alexander said.

When the CCDBG program was last reauthorized in 1996, the program rightly focused primarily on workforce aid. But in the intervening years, more has been learned about the necessity of not just providing children with a place to go, but also the importance of providing them with high-quality care. The HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families held three public hearings over the past Congress – consulting with parents, childcare providers and early learning and developmental experts and other child care advocacy organizations – to explore how best the CCDBG program could be reauthorized and improved.

The legislation introduced this week by Senators Mikulski, Burr, Harkin and Alexander incorporates feedback and suggestions provided to the Committee over the past year. The bill requires states to devote more of their funding to quality initiatives, such as: training, professional development, and professional advancement of the child care workforce. The bill ensures that CCDBG providers meet certain health and safety requirements, related to prevention and control of infectious diseases, first aid and CPR, child abuse prevention, administration of medication, prevention of and response to emergencies due to food allergies, prevention of sudden infant death syndrome and shaken baby syndrome, building and physical premises safety, and emergency response planning. The legislation gives families more stability in the CCDBG program and works to improve early childhood care by requiring states to focus on infant and toddler quality initiatives. Finally, the bill requires mandatory background checks for child care providers in the CCDBG program.

Source: The Official Website of Senator Barbara Mikulski

Available at: http://www.mikulski.senate.gov/media/pressrelease/6-5-2013-1.cfm