Flu: Recommendations for Child Care Facilities

Influenza (“the flu”) is a sudden, respiratory disease that spreads easily. It is characterized by the sudden onset of fever, body aches, sore throat, headache and cough, and, in children, can also cause diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration.

  • The most effective way to prevent influenza in child care settings is to encourage vaccination of staff and children every year.
  • Wash hands frequently using soap and warm water for 15-20 seconds (This is generally the amount of time it takes to sing the ABC’s). Dry hands with paper towels or automatic hand dryers, if possible. If cloth towels are used, replace them with clean towels several times a day. Young children should be instructed and assisted to ensure proper handwashing. Restrooms should be checked regularly to ensure that soap and towels are available. Proper hand washing is particularly important after wiping your or someone else’s nose, or after contact with drool, saliva or nose drainage.
  • Any staff, volunteer or child suspected of having the flu should not attend day care.
  • Flu can be spread from coughs or sneezes. Make sure tissues are available for runny noses and sneezing. Staff and children should cover their mouths when coughing and use a tissue when sneezing or blowing their noses. Tissues should be thrown away immediately, and then hands should be washed. (If you cannot wash hands, rub hands with an alcohol hand gel). Make sure tissues are available in the daycare center and cars for runny noses and sneezing.
  • Closing a day care in the event of an outbreak is usually not recommended.
  • All children and staff should avoid sharing of saliva by not sharing glasses, forks, spoons, toothbrushes, and toys.
  • In the day care, frequently clean commonly used surfaces, such as door handles, handrails, eating surfaces, toys, etc. Commercial disinfectants or bleach solutions should be used. (Mixing ¼ cup bleach with 1 gallon of water makes bleach solution).