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Protecting Your Children Against the Flu

We all know the flu is a serious illness, especially for children. According to the latest figures from state health officials it's only getting worse.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) "All the school nurses in the district spend time educating the children about proper hand washing," says Renee Falkner.

Falkner is a registered nurse at Skaith Elementary in St. Joseph.

She says the school averages three to four students out daily with the flu which is why they're taking extra steps to keep children healthy.

"Well all the classrooms are equipped with Clorox wipes and the janitors are very aware of when it's flu season and they spend extra time taking care of door knobs and things that children touch," added Falkner.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the outbreak may be linked to cold and dry air.

Missouri recorded nearly 2,000 cases of the H1N1 virus during the first week of January.

Nancy Taylor with the Health Department says it's the same string of the virus as the 2009 flu pandemic.

"It tends to affect younger populations so that can be a concern because sometimes the younger population don't see themselves as being capable of getting the virus and therefore they may not be vaccinated or they may not take proper precautions when they do get sick," says Taylor.

Since the string is most aggressive among young children, state health experts suggest getting your children vaccinated.

"That's the best way to prevent the flu and otherwise if you think you're getting sick go see your doctor and look at the possibility of an antiviral such as Tamiflu," said Taylor.

If your child does have the flu, it's best they stay home to prevent other students from getting sick.

"We really want them to be home. In order to return they need to be fever free for at least 24 hours and not taking medication before they can return to school after they've been ill," added Falkner.

The Health Department is still offering free vaccinations for children who qualify.

To see if your child qualifies visit the Health Department's website.

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