Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hot topic: Swine flu and back to school

An SF K Files visitor asked me to start the following thread:
I have been thinking about this topic for awhile. What do people think of swine flu in public schools? I was ready to ask our principal what the policy was, when voila! there is mention in our newsletter that it is indeed at our school (public, grade school). I know the mandated course of action is the same as regular flu (after researching) but still feel a little uneasy with it, especially because I am pregnant with #3 due around Christmas. What do other parents think? What would they do? etc. Perhaps you can re-word this to sound a bit better than what I've put together, and also, please keep me anonymous, it isn't hard to figure out which school given that it is the middle of summer.

18 comments:

  1. Argonne has a swine flu outbreak?

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  2. The swine flu has proved to be much milder than what was initially thought, but since you are pregnant I would talk with your own personal physician. Stay healthy and wash your hands a lot. Your physician will offer much more sound advice.

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  3. #1 As a pregnant woman you are advised to get the swine flu vaccine by the CDC. Pregnant women are significantly more likely to end up in the hospital vs. other populations. With young children and a new one on the way, you cannot afford to get sick. Please take care of yourself!

    #2 Hand washing and sanitizer! Each school should have a full-blown marketing assault on the kids and teachers about frequent hand washing. I just ordered a case of 2-liter bottles of hand sanitizer to donate to our school.

    #3 Don't panic. Yes, there will be swine flu in the schools. The virus has clearly established itself in California. But the symptoms are relatively mild. From a public health perspective, panic is a more menacing threat than the H1N1 virus. Panic will clog our health care system and delay treatment for those who really need it.

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  4. I didn't read my newsletter this week (bad parent!) but haven't heard a THING about swine flu at Argonne-- no mention or discussion on the school listserve -- so I'd be surprised if anything serious were going on. Also, we go on vacation again as of Friday so if there were a case, ongoing exposure would be limited.

    I am going to email the principal right now, however!

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  5. Dad from Argonne here. It was in the newsletter, seriously downplayed. Good thing there is a two week break coming up. We need to get together with the principal and come up with a plan of action for the parents, kids, and teachers. Cleaning, hand sanitizer, really good hygiene, keeping kids home when they are sick, etc.

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  6. I noticed the other day that the cafeteria in my government office building has these portable hand sanitizer stations with big signage at every entrance. Something like that might be nice to get for the schools.

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  7. I've heard some neg's about hand sanitizer. A nurse told me that the alcohol content dries the skin, which then cracks, leading to contamination. Anyone have more info? Is hand sanitizer effective or not? How does it compare to soap and water?

    Note: it's much, much quicker to use sanitizer on a classroom of young children. Soap and water takes a long, long time, especially if you try to get everyone to do it before lunch, and then there are all those dirty paper towels!

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  8. What about the sanitizers with aloe. Are they any better as to the dryness factor?

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  9. Apparently there was one case of flu (not sure if it was H1N1 or your garden variety), the child is better and was kept home as soon as the parents realized s/he was sick.

    Since the incubation period is 3-5 days, the principal thinks we are out of the woods; school lets out tomorrow for two weeks of vacation and the PTO is buying hand sanitizer and clorox wipes for every classroom for when we return; school staff are washing down tables in the cafeteria and other heavily trafficked areas. In addition we are re-emphasizing steps every adult and every child need to take to keep from passing on a cold or illness, or catching one from someone else (washing hands, sneezing into your sleeve, staying home when you aren't feeling well, etc.)

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  10. I think the school is doing a good job of handling the situation. I had a discussion with my own doctor (I'm also PG) and she again reiterated what we already know - it's presenting as a mild flu. For myself, I would take extra precautions if my son gets sick, but she said the swine flu is very prevalent in SF, and many people have already been exposed to it. So, do not panic, practice good hygiene, and stay home if you are sick! Btw, my son is at Argonne in 1st grade.

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  11. The hand sanitizers work best on clean hands. That means if you start off with clean well washed hands. Think soap and water and washing for the length it takes to sing happy Bday. Then the sanitizers work well. They were initially intended for health care workers who started off with a thorough hand washing and then moved through out their day washing frequently and using the sanitizers in between patients.

    One areas schools may want to consider off limits when the flu is active is the water fountains. All those hands touching the same fountain knobs is germ central.

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  12. alcohol-free hand sanitizers seem the best choice for children: http://cleanwelltoday.com

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  13. like water fountains, all those handles at the kids' salad bar at lunch are germ spreaders. Our school talked about having a mandatory hand sanitizer station in the cafeteria last year but it didn't happen. Seems like a good idea with H1NI and other flu around this season. I'm not that stressed about it but hope our school (Starr King) stays on top of it in terms of making kids stay home etc. I'll likely be more inclined to keep my 1st grader home for cold symptoms that I might have otherwise been. (Single working mom and all that) (We're still planning a trip to Mexico despite that last year we were there when the swine flu broke out.) What about the vaccination? Are folks planning on doing it? Isn't it 3 shots now? 2 for the H1N1 and 1 for the regular flu? I'm not sure I'm going to do that since I do have some concerns the whole media thing is overblown and will certainly help the manufacturers of vaccine. ---Single Bernal mom

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  14. If you do get the vaccines for your children, get the version WITHOUT Thimerosal (mercury) in it.

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  15. to 1:53

    Are you certain that there is a version of the vaccine that contains thimerosal?

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  16. this thread made me curious because I'm allergic to thimerosal and my kid's shots have all been identified as thimerosal-free to date. So I googled it and found this, FWIW: http://blogs.abcnews.com/theworldnewser/2009/07/thimerosal-and-the-swine-flu-vaccine.html

    and this:
    http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs001/1101240076659/archive/1102657589778.html

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  17. Concerning the second url:

    If Mayer Eisenstein MD,JD,MPH puts it on his website, it must be true! "Quack, Quack!", said the duck.

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  18. 11:06 Nothing dries out hands as badly as soap and water. Hand sanitizer is the most sensible way to get kids efficiently cleaning their hands many times throughout the day. Parents have to keep their sick kids at home and the schools should send any sick kids home.

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