It’s that time of year again… flu shots are out there and available. I’m getting lots of questions from child care staff such as “is it a good idea to get a flu shot”? The answer is yes! The best way to prevent the flu is actually to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is usually 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing influenza.

How can you help to prevent the spread of influenza:

1. Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. Dry your hands with a single service, disposable paper towel.
2. Cover your cough and sneeze preferably with your elbow.
3. Maintain illness exclusions and stay home when sick to limit the spread of the flu.
4. Get your annual flu vaccine!

How is influenza spread?

Influenza is most often spread from person to person when an ill person coughs or sneezes. The influenza virus can also be spread through hands contaminated with the virus when a healthy person touches their nose, mouth or eyes.

If you are exposed to someone with influenza, how long does it take for you to get symptoms?

The time from exposure to disease is called the incubation period and the incubation period for influenza is about one to seven days.

How long can a person with influenza spread the virus?

People with influenza can spread the virus from one to two days before symptoms begin to seven days after their symptoms start. Children, especially young children, and people with weakened immune systems can sometimes spread the virus 10 days after symptoms start. Even though people can spread influenza before and after developing symptoms, they spread the virus most often when they have a fever.

So do everything you can to stay healthy this year! Minimize the days you miss out on your busy life’s happenings. Remember the important ways to help reduce your chances of getting sick: Wash your hands and get a flu vaccine!