Schools and the Flu

North Graham Elementary and Graham Middle School, two year-round schools already in session,  will be closed today for cleaning. Forty-nine kids were out sick on Thursday and an additional 13 went home. Officials aren’t testing for swine flu unless you’re hospitalized, but the flu-like symptoms and fast spread of the diesease has school officials closing the school under precaution to help stop the spread.

Maybe the swine flu isn’t the deadliest flu we’ve seen. But it’s definitely got parents talking. What if an outbreak occurs at your kid’s school? Will you keep your child home even if they’re healthy? WIll you expect the school to close, and how many kids should be sick for a school to close? Federal officials have cautioned schools to be conservative on closings.  Just like unexpected snow days, a school closing for swine flu leaves a lot of parents struggling to find child care options for their healthy kids, and we can’t forget the hassles that come with trying to fit in make-up days. Just ask the Guilford County kids who went to school until June 15 this year!

New York health officials are stressing the importance of the vaccine. They say there will be an ample supply for the at-risk populations, and hopefully if people get the vaccine it will help decrease the spread and keep the issue of whether to close schools or not to a minimum. But that raises another issue entirely — the vaccine. Will there be enough? It looks like it. But it won’t be available until October. And who are the at-risk populations? This time,  it’s young children and pregnant women. And we all know, even for those of us parents who vaccinate our kids without too many questions, we hate giving them yet another shot.

And what about pregnant women? We’re told not to take a plethora of medications when pregnant, and now put a very new vaccine into our bodies? Health officials and doctors are all stressing that it’s safe and important.

Looks like we’re all in for a lot of hand washing this fall!