December 8, 2003
Concerns about a worse
than usual flu season, a vaccine shortage, and recent flu deaths
among children that have made the news, have some parents--and children--on
"An early strong start
to the flu season and the deaths of at least five children in Colorado
from the flu highlight the importance of getting a flu shot for
at-risk children. Dr. Louis Cooper, a representative of the American
Academy of Pediatrics, tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler
it is too early to explain the deaths in Colorado. To put it in
perspective he says, 'Children get influenza every year. Maybe 30
percent of the kids in school will get the flu. We always have some
hospitalizations and we certainly have extra deaths. Most of those
deaths are in folks like me or in people who have some kind of underlying
condition: people with sickle-cell disease, chronic heart disease,
diabetes and so forth.' The Center for Disease Control and Prevention
says this flu season could be worse than usual, partly because the
vaccine currently used does not fully match a strain of the virus
that is in circulation."
While, "[m]aybe 30
percent of the kids in school will get the flu," this is nothing
new. Each year, thousands die or are hospitalized, but millions
more get the flu and recover completely with rest and care at home.
Yes, at home.
There can often be the
temptation to "tough it out" and continue to go to work
or school. There is that report due, that test in second period,
or the hassle of trying to catch up after being gone. There are
some things that it's just not nice to share. So, how do you know
if you are just too sick to go, or if you really should be at school?
One district suggests:
"Parents and students often have questions about when it is
appropriate to stay home from school because of illness. The following
guidelines will help with your decision. Your child should stay
-If your child has had a temperature of 100.00 degrees or higher
in the past 24 hours.
-If you child has vomited or has had diarrhea within the past 24
-If your child has an uncontrolled cough.
-If your child has been diagnosed with strep throat and has been
on an antibiotic for less than 24 hours.
-If your child feels too ill to remain in class and benefit from
-If there is risk to other students from being exposed to your child's
Other things to consider:
Would you want the people who sit near you in class to come to school
if they felt like you do now? Even if you aren't at risk for serious
complications, can you be confident that the people around you who
will be sharing your germs will recover as easily? Even if you do
decide that you are too sick to go to school or work, then what?
If your parents need to be at work, and you are too sick to be around
others, are you healthy enough to stay home alone? What are your
alternatives? For a fee, some families in one city now have an additional
"The Estelle F. Kaufman
Sick Child Care Center is on the ground floor of the Bowery Professional
Building on the Akron Children's Hospital campus.
The center is open to the general public from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30
p.m. Monday through Friday....Space is limited and is filled on
a first-come, first-served basis. To attend, children must have
symptoms that would keep them out of school or day care."
While the Sick Child Care
Center may work for some, it is not an option for all families--or
in all areas. Whether it is the flu, or any other illness, what
does getting sick mean for you?
Questions of the Week:
What should you do if you get sick? What could you do? What would
you do? Given your family, school, and work situations, what are
your choices? What would be best for you? What would be best for
those you have contact with throughout the day? Should anyone (schools?
hospitals? cities?) have the responsibility to ensure options for
those in the community who are sick, or should it be strictly the
responsibility of individuals and their families to take care of
themselves and help prevent further spread of whatever illnesses
they might have?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum