Are you worried about Swine Flu in your child’s school?

While children may be excited to see old friends when school starts back, many parents may worry that a new – and invisible — class visitor will begin making its way through Georgia’s schools.  In most cases, H1N1 – or “swine flu” – is a mild to moderate virus, with many symptoms similar to seasonal flu. However, officials worry that it could quickly mutate into something far more dangerous, because it is also highly contagious.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stopped trying to keep count of the increasing numbers of people infected with swine flu, calling it an unstoppable pandemic. The media report of fatalities worldwide from the virus, and some camps in the U.S closed or sent home young campers who fell ill with the flu this summer. While vaccines are being readied for the masses as quickly as possible, it may be October before the flu shots are available.

One thing is certain: the swine flu virus has continued to spread over the summer (when seasonal flu typically dies out), and Georgia’s children will return to school long before those flu shots arrive. When the shots are available, the federal government has suggested we may even see mass vaccination programs in schools, similar to the polio vaccinations in the 1950s. 

So what’s a parent to do until then? A healthy dose of preventative health care seems to be the key. In other words, try like mad not to get swine flu in the first place. Tell children to stay away from people who appear sick; wash their hands with soap and water; use hand sanitizer; keep their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth; and cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.  

Are you concerned about swine flu sweeping through your child’s school when they return? What will you tell your children about swine flu prevention? How do you stress to your young ones the importance of taking precautions without scaring them? Are your children already aware of H1N1 — are they afraid of getting it?  How do you feel about a possible mass vaccination program in your child’s school?

 

 

 

42 comments Add your comment

alice

July 28th, 2009
7:39 am

Actually, this flu has been so mild (for otherwise healthy people) that I wish my kids would go ahead and get it now — and build immunity.

It was a terror for many sleep away camps this summer and we can expect that many kids will get it at school this year. However, most of the kids I know who got it, had high temperatures for a day or two, and then low grade for a day or two then boom well.

I am struggling with the immunization question as I think that though it has proven to be highly contagious it hasn’t shown itself to be a severe flu.

HellenGear

July 28th, 2009
8:06 am

This flu has had many of us parents very worried but I don’t think it is cause to panic or keep our kids out of school. I am very glad that I bought my kids new prepaid Tracfone Motorola W376’s before they went to camp. The phones came with DMFL for less than $30 so I have been able to stay in constant contact with my kids and I’m always aware of the situation. It may be better for them to get the virus now if there is any chance of it mutating then my kids will have developed some immunity.

FCM

July 28th, 2009
8:14 am

Your joking right? This is really the topic for today.

I will check in tomorrow.

Photius

July 28th, 2009
8:18 am

The flu pandemic of 1918 was very very similar to today’s Swine Flu. 1st cases were late spring, then it went mostly dormant in Summer and returned with a vengeance in the fall and winter – after mutating. With man’s advances in science we take for granted that another pandemic is a thing of the past, but we as human beings are long overdue for some super virus to kills millions. You should be concerned…

Becky

July 28th, 2009
8:28 am

I’m with FCM..I’ll check back in tomorrow..Also as JJ says, I’m not going to stress out over something that I don’t have much control over..

momtoAlex&Max

July 28th, 2009
8:41 am

My god. Just in the last couple of weeks: do you worry about sharks? Do you worry about your kids lying? Do you worry about the Harry Potter movie? Do your worry about the swine flu?

GOOD GRIEF!!! It’s a wonder any of us let kids out of their bedrooms AT ALL! What with all the dangers out there.

SLG

July 28th, 2009
8:47 am

I am very concerned. Concerned that he’ll get the mutated version or any of course. And, hate to say it, but I’m concerned about trusting the governments vaccine. It’s a leap of faith either way. I have a preschooler, so I’m very concerned about what will come up in daycare…..

Wasn't this topic...

July 28th, 2009
8:49 am

…discussed ad nauseum when it was a national topic at the end of the school year? Nothing much has changed, so Ms. Keith, please try to keep up!

Jimbo

July 28th, 2009
8:50 am

So there have been a little over a thousand swine flu deaths and you’re wondering if you should be worried? The total number of cases is a couple hundred thousand out of a population of 6+ billion people.. Those are some pretty good odds. In Georgia alone there were 178 cases, in a population of 9 million people. Only one person died out of those 178 cases. I know the news is all crazy about the swine flu, but people need to apply a little rational logic to these things. If you’re going to die, it’s a lot more likely that it’s going to be in car, or from a lightning strike, or from common flu.. Sure, you could die from swine flu, but you could also get killed by potted plant falling off a high rise. Will you now wonder about death from above, the threat of the potted plant? Just do what you should be doing anyway. Wash your hands, eat a nutritious diet, and let your kid roll around in the dirt from time to time. Your best shot is to have a kid who has the resources and the capability to mount their own defense.

Michelle

July 28th, 2009
9:09 am

Something that most people don’t realize is that we are ripe for a major pandemic! I can tell you that the the medical communities are VERY worried. Clearly, the current virus isn’t as deadly as it could be, BUT mutation of the virus is where we will see the increase in death rates! This is what would be called the 1st wave in a pandemic. There are usually 3 with the 2nd being the worst. (1st wave, initial exposure, 2nd wave mutation with higher exposure, 3rd wave more immunity). The reason it is so deadly is that the those who are typically considered “healthy” have never been exposed and have strong immune systems. Their immune systems will go into overdrive to protect the body. The very young and the elderly do not have the “strong” immune systems so their immune response is not the same.

The best defense is to be prepared. Educate about how the virus is spread. Teach kids to wash their hands frequently or use santizer if soap/water is not available. Avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth. Keep your kids home when they are sick, etc.

I don’t think scaring your kids is the right idea though. Give them just the amount of education they need. If you give them too much information, they are likely to be too scared to do anything!

As for adults, we should be prepared. Not just for a “pandemic” but for any disaster! I would recommend checking out the American Red Cross’s website for disaster preparedness. There are also a couple of other ones out there, but the ARC is a good place to start. You don’t want to try to find supplied DURING a disaster. By then, it’s too late!

April

July 28th, 2009
9:34 am

I think it is something to be concerned about. At the same time, I am trying not to panic and am working on how to instill healthy habits with my children and in my classroom. Other than that, I am not sure there is much we can do right now. A pandemic is a very real concern, and it is naive to think differently, but I am trying to focus on the things I have control over.

motherjanegoose

July 28th, 2009
9:46 am

I am not frantic. I am more concerned about all the people I observe who leave a public restroom WITHOUT washing their hands. Recently, we saw a young mother carrying her baby out ( after she used the restroom) and she did not wash her hands eeeew! My daughter and I did not want to touch the door knob.

nurse&mother

July 28th, 2009
9:54 am

I agree with those who mention the fact that we are past due for a deadly pandemic. Hopefully it will stay mild, but there are no guarantees. I think it is very prudent to practice good handwashing. I will certainly sign my family up for the vaccine when it becomes available.

While I am not panicking, I am cautious. I’ve probably been a little more lax as far as the kids go out in public. This is a friendly reminder that the fall DEFINITELY brings out the germs. I was a school nurse for 3 years. You’d be amazed how quickly the illness become rampant around September October. Strep is a biggie right off the bat too.

DB

July 28th, 2009
10:11 am

Worry? No. There’s no percentage in worrying about something that is completely out of your control. Both of my kids will be part of large university communities — surrounded by kids who stay up late, get run down, and are susceptible to just about anything coming down the road. Wash the hands, avoid sick people, blah, blah, blah — do they hear me? I hope so. I will encourage them to go for a vaccine if it becomes available.

I remember standing in line at our neighborhood school to get those little pink sugar cubes with the polio vaccine . . . I think I was about 3 or 4 at the time.

Keith

July 28th, 2009
10:18 am

Hey guys –

I didn’t mean to imply that we should all run round in a panic over swine flu. I know the topic was a big one at the end of the school year last spring, but given that the virus has shown it doesn’t “die” out over the warm summer months like seasonal flus and that health officials are concerned enough to warrant talks of polio-like school vaccination programs, I figured it was worth another discussion.

The thing is, health officials over the summer have talked of the virus mutating and becoming much more dangerous. Deaths from swine flu are small, but they are highly publicized — that is scary for kids to hear. And I’m guessing that once kids in schools start getting swine flu, the students (and probably many parents as well) are going to get a little nervous — even if they only have mild to moderate symptoms.

Personally, right now I’m no more concerned about my kids getting swine flu than I am any other virus. But I am paying attention to the news on it, and I realize lots of children may be concerned once the topic and/or the virus itself starts circulating through the schools.

motherjanegoose

July 28th, 2009
10:26 am

@Becky…I am thinking of the boiling the frog in a pot story, when anyone mentions that they are not stressing out over things they cannot control.

No sense in going nuts over everything but being alert is good. Apathy can sometimes be dangerous.

My husband has reasonably good health insurance with his company but I am still a bit nervous over the health care initiatives being touted ( while I cannot control it) as this may change everyone’s health care for the worse….even those who have been sacrificing ( sp?) to pay for good coverage
( like us).

pd

July 28th, 2009
10:26 am

Of Course not. As long as my child wears the Hazmat suit and respirator that I bought him, never participates in any dangerous activity, sleeps in the bubble I installed in his room, takes numerous drugs, and wears a helmut ALL THE TIME, then what is there to be worried about???

Rob

July 28th, 2009
10:42 am

I read on a blog recently that most hand sanitizers contain more than 62 percent alcohol — and schools are putting hand sanitizer on school supplies lists? That’s crazy and dangerous. My kids use alcohol-free hand sanitizer made by a company called Aloe Up. I don’t go anywhere without it.

Becky

July 28th, 2009
11:04 am

@MJG, just because I’m not stressing over it, doesn’t mean that I’m not concerned.. I take precautions as well as others…I still just don’t see the point in worrying myself sick over it..As others have said, everyday life is just as dangerous..

Cammi317

July 28th, 2009
11:53 am

I wasn’t….well not until I read all of the comments on here.

Cammi317

July 28th, 2009
11:53 am

Rob…where do you buy the Aloe Up?

Swine Flu | All Days Long

July 28th, 2009
11:57 am

[...] Are you worried about Swine Flu in your child's school? | A Blog … By Keith Still While children may be excited to see old friends when school starts back, many parents may worry that a new – and invisible — class visitor will begin making. A Blog for Busy Moms – MOMania – http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/ [...]

Katherine

July 28th, 2009
12:00 pm

Rob – What is the active ingredient in the Aloe Up hand sanitizer? It sounds great!

JJ

July 28th, 2009
12:37 pm

I’m more worried about that damn HPV virus in women. My daughter is getting her vaccine soon. She got the mennogiocaccol (sp) shot today. They recommend that for anyone living in a college Dorm…….

As for the swine flu, no, I’m not worried. I take good care of my health and I wash my hands A LOT!!!!! I don’t worry about stuff like this……

JJ

July 28th, 2009
1:07 pm

I googled it, and found it on Amazon.com……

JJ

July 28th, 2009
1:29 pm

Please, no more topics that start with “Are you worried about……”

Let’s have something fun so we can enjoy this blog again…….

FCM

July 28th, 2009
1:44 pm

After researching the pandimic of 1918 (more due to Twilight than swine flu)….I found that A–most people died due to complications arising from bad medical practices (washing hands, dorm style non ventilated hospitals, or worse treatment on the roadside) than from the flu.

One should always practice good health habits. Still, I am more concerned with the battle of LICE (the school was riddled with it last year) that took 10 years off my life battling than I am of swine flu.

Additionally, if the vaccine comes out, my contact at the CDC says YES get the kids the shots.

catlady

July 28th, 2009
2:12 pm

Yes, in my county you should be very, very scared. Our nurse says she “cannot” send a child home unless their temp is over 101. So when it hits (and it will) there will be a quick explosion of cases.

catlady

July 28th, 2009
2:17 pm

With schools using attendance to measure their “success” for NCLB (one of the measures) you should all be very concerned. Sick kids are being sent to school each day, either in fear of the attendance police (ours have milk teeth–nothing is EVER done) or so parents can work (no back up plan). So you really should be bugging your school administrators and district administrators about how they plan to curtail the virus being spread!

Photius

July 28th, 2009
3:25 pm

FCM – what also should be mentioned that all Doctors today know, is when a pandemic strikes the healthcare system is overwhelmed; quite frankly many people cannot get it in addition to the Docs/Nurses becoming ill as well. Massive death rates occur. We are overdue

Michelle

July 28th, 2009
3:29 pm

Good point Photius…yes, the healthcare system will be overwhelmed (I could say more, but I’ll leave it at that). That is why you should keep your kids home if they are sick! This will help (somewhat) keep the spread down. Now, if ALL the parents of sick children (and themselves) would do that! I cannot tell you how many people come to work sick…I don’t mean the sniffles, I mean raging fever, can’t breathe, vomiting, etc.!

concerned

July 28th, 2009
4:07 pm

What many people overlook is the fact that in 1918, when an estimated 60 to 100 million people died of a pandemic flu…. there were virtually no airplanes! Granted that -at least in the developed countries- hygiene is at a much higher standard now, this is more than offset by (a) continuous global air travel of infected people; (b)a world population that has roughly tripled since then, inevitably resulting in a much closer proximity of people and therefore higher infection risk.

lwa

July 28th, 2009
4:17 pm

@JJ Aren’t you worried about you daughter getting the vaccination for HPV Virus? I don’t think enough research has been done on this vaccine.

Pamela

July 28th, 2009
5:08 pm

Thought I’d add my comment – my 4 and a half year old son was diagnosed with swine flue yesterday. We are all home as a precaution – including my 13 month old. My older son will be fin – he seems to be just about done with it – and we are extremely hopeful our youngest does not get it. His school and the parents are freaking out, as I would have had I received the notice at school (daycare). It is a strain of the flu, he will be fine. I will be more at ease once we are all free and clear of it, but for now we are just doing our best to ensure no one else gets it. Our doctor, with 28 years experience, has told me not to be concerned, but has also given our youngest a prescription of tamiflu as a proactive measure, only because he has some history of wheezing. Anyway, wish us luck, try not to freak out too much, and keep washing those hands.

nurse&mother

July 28th, 2009
6:14 pm

Certainly not to scare anyone, but it’s doctors’ and nurses’ job to keep people calm (not to say that your dr. is in panic mode).

Concerned- hygiene is not as improved as you would like to think. Like MJG (I think it was she) said, just observe those folks in the bathroom NOT washing their hands (or at least barely wetting them and calling it handwashing).

Excellent points photius! The healthcare system would definitely be overwhelmed and healthcare professionals would be forced to triage and prioritize patients.

Catlady also has some valid points regarding sick children at school. I can’t tell you how often sick children are sent to school because parents don’t have a babysitter. (that really hacked me off when I was a school nurse)

motherjanegoose

July 28th, 2009
6:37 pm

While I am all for fun topics,sometimes adults can share information on this blog that might be resourceful in the near future. Each blogger here has expertise in a different realm and when our ideas are shared we ALL learn.

I appreciate insightful topics mixed in with fun. The posts today have made me think ( a good thing since my brain has been on vacation and I head out for a meeting tomorrow).

I am disappointed when anyone criticizes the topic presented on Momania, as it does take some thinking to come up with a plan and write blog topics week after week.

There are times when I am not interested in the topic but I try to let it go.

The important thing ( I think and I may be the only one) to take into consideration is:

not all bloggers have kids who are heading to college in August

not all bloggers go to the beach for vacation

not all bloggers have big dogs

not all bloggers are single parents

not all bloggers are educators

not all bloggers are involved in the medical profession

not all bloggers travel for business

not all bloggers live ITP (lol)

not all bloggers are philosophical or even intelligent sounding….although some try to be ….hahaha

not all bloggers visit MOMANIA for fun everyday…even though we do have some crazy topics and enjoy the chit chat

BALANCE is important in journalism…isn’t it? Thanks to everyone who shared thoughts today.

DB

July 28th, 2009
6:50 pm

Iwa: I don’t know about JJ, but my daughter, too, received the HPV vaccination. While there is always some concern regarding anything “new”, I think that, in this case, the pros definitely outweigh the nebulous “cons”.

My daughter was one of the first kids in Atlanta that received the varicella vaccine when it first came out — CNN was at our doctor’s office, getting video footage of kids getting it (it just happened to coincide with her yearly well-check). No chicken pox? Sounds like a plan, to me. And there was the same “oh, no, a vaccine? think of all the awful things that can happen!” No cervical cancer? Ditto. I grew up just before the vaccine evolutions — as a result, I actually had German measles (rubella), red measles (measles), diptheria (whooping cough), chicken pox, and mumps — most before I was 6, and I certainly didn’t grow up in an immigrant slum! I was lucky and escaped serious aftereffects, except some vision damage after the measles. There is nothing “character building” about suffering from a disease, if there’s an excellent chance of avoiding it.

DB

July 28th, 2009
6:53 pm

Pamela: Hope your little one feels better, soon!

concerned

July 28th, 2009
10:23 pm

I just read the earlier comments on hand sanitizers, alcohol versus non-alcohol based. What you want to look for in a non-alcoholic sanitizer is the active ingredient Benzalkonium Chloride (BC). Products with this ingredient are widely used in the pharmaceutical and medical fields and have been for years. There are numerous brands available online, just google “alcohol free hand sanitizer”. I use one called Dephyze. Contrary to common belief, BC is better at killing bugs than alcohol is. Most alcohol sanitizers claim a 3-log kill (99.9%), whereas BC achieves a 5-log kill (99.999%). Those 2 extra nines make a lot of difference in the biocide world. The company I work for makes a military grade decontaminant (developed by DOE) that has a 7-log kill (99.99999) which is considered complete (”undetectable”). This is good for killing weaponized anthrax, but would obviously be overkill on your hands. Interesting fact is, that its active ingredient is also a form of quaternary ammonium, just as the BC.
The disadvantages of alcohol-based sanitizer are:
1. alcohol is flammable. the little bottle can become a hazard;
2. some forms of alcohol can be deadly for little kids;
3. alcohol of any kind may form a temptation to some teenage kids;
4. frequent use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer dissolves the naturally ocurring oily film on human hands that actually deters microorganisms;
5. Alcohol dries out the skin and can cause irritation;
6. Too frequent use can cause the skin to “crack”, enabling uninhibited access of microorganisms into the body.
Due to where I work, I have always been very concious of what I touch with my hands and I have a bottles of sanitizer in different strategic places (car, desk, at home, etc.) Call me a germophobe if you want! I don’t go to the gym without it either. Which brings me to my final point: besides clean hands and staying home when you feel sick, the best remedy against getting infected is staying away from crowds. That will be especially hard for me this October, being an avid baseball fan, but maybe I’ll watch this post season from the comfort of my own couch ;)

ferhat cemil sevim

July 29th, 2009
2:41 pm

6.8 billion people are waiting the vaccine, shot on earth.Here is my question ; how long will it take to produce such amount of shots,vaccines?Is there a producing capability in a short time?

Bonnie

August 1st, 2009
7:10 pm

I am trying to find the list of people that will be elgible for the H1N1 Virus? It was on Channel Fox 5 a couple of nights ago & haven’t found it sense? Thanks

catlady

August 2nd, 2009
5:08 pm

Bonnie: it was the usual, with one exception, I think. I am stll annoyed that teachers are not included on that list, as we come into contact with hundreds of kids and their illnesses, ambient or critical, each day.