Swine Flu Guidelines for Day Care Centers Announced
Health officials recommend vaccination of children, attention to hygiene practices
FRIDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Children enrolled in early education programs should be among the first to get the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available in mid-October, according to new guidelines issued Sept. 4 for program staffers by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
The new guidelines were announced during a press conference featuring U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, who noted that young children are especially vulnerable to infection with the H1N1 virus, which can quickly spread in such settings as day care centers and Head Start programs.
In addition to vaccination, the new guidelines emphasize rigorous attention to good hygiene practices, including regular hand washing, avoidance of touching the nose, mouth and eyes, and covering noses and mouths when coughing or sneezing. They also advise regular cleaning of education centers, and prompt cleaning of dirty play areas and toys. In the event of a severe swine flu outbreak, they recommend that early education program staffers work closely with public health officials to consider temporarily closing their facilities.
Beth Bell, M.D., associate director for science at the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, urged day care providers to carefully monitor children and staffers for signs and symptoms of swine flu infection. "Program providers should do a daily health check of children and staff looking for signs of illness, so that sick children and staff can be identified, can be separated from well people as soon as possible, and, when feasible, sent home," she said during the press conference.