Keeping kids safe from the flu: What experts say you can do to prevent it

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PEORIA, Ill. — Protecting our kids from the flu that’s spreading quickly.

With kids getting back in their routine after the holiday break, both school and health officials say it is extremely important to keep them healthy not only in the classroom but also at home.

During the 2018/2019 flu season, the CDC reports over 34,000 people died from the flu.

Over 91% of those deaths were adults 50 years and older.

Dr. Brian Curtis, Director of Physician Practice of OSF Healthcare, says what doctors are seeing this year is different than most flu seasons.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of Influenza B. We’ve been seeing that really since the beginning which Influenza B is something we usually see at the end of the Influenza season,” Dr. Curtis said.

In last year’s flu season, the CDC shows nearly 4 million American children ages 4 and under showed flu-like symptoms.

But of those, less than 2.5 million had medical visits.

Dunlap School District Superintendent Dr. Scott Dearman says keeping kids healthy at home will keep them healthy at school too.

“Probably the biggest thing we could use help from the parents, they know their children far better than we do and they know when they’re ill. If they are ill, please keep them home so they’re not sending them to school and potentially spread something,” Dr. Dearman said.

Dr. Dearman says if a student misses a day of classes, they’ll be able to catch up on their work at home.

“We are a 1-to-1 school district so everything is available on ‘Canvas’ is what we use, our platform. So parents can see, students are out that day, what the assignments were,” Dr. Dearman said.

Dunlap district leaders encourage hand-washing and cleaning of hard surfaces.

But they went the extra mile in ensuring kids were ready for the winter season.

“The transportation department did a coat drive, making sure all our kids have proper clothing. They distributed those coats to those students in need throughout different buildings in the district,” Dr. Dearman said.

Dr. Dearman adds the district has a Clorox 360 machine to help sanitize wings of the buildings if there is an outbreak of the flu in any school.

Dr. Dearman adds especially when teachers are new to the job, it’s very easy for them to get sick too.

“Every teacher will tell you that first year, coming out of college, you’re exposed to all those germs maybe you weren’t exposed to before. Kids being kids, they’ll sneeze on you. We have teachers that get ill and luckily most have been there, done that and they know what the symptoms are and when to stay home,” Dr. Dearman said.

Dr. Curtis says although we are halfway through the entire flu season, which goes from October to April, it’s still extremely important to get you and your children vaccinated.

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