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Due to a rise in the number of reported flu cases and other respiratory viruses, Riley at IU Health is implementing visitor restrictions to protect patients and prevent further spreading. View full details.

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Back To School Germs: Reduce Your Child's Risk of Getting Sick

Back to school is an exciting time, but it is also an important time to remind your child about some health and safety basics. With illnesses like colds, the flu, strep throat and head lice common in schools, the following tips can help to reduce your child’s risk of catching a classroom bug:

  • Teach good hand washing habits. Frequent and thorough hand washing is your child’s greatest ally against common classroom illnesses. Teach your child to wash his or her hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds (or the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice). Hands should be washed after each trip to the restroom, after coughing or sneezing, before eating and after handling communal objects like computers or toys.
  • Get a flu shot. Flu season generally starts in October and continues through May, so get your family vaccinated now. Flu shots do not completely guarantee that your child will not get the flu, but they reduce the likelihood by 70 to 90 percent according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Get flu shots early before the season officially starts and your family will be protected all season long.
  • Share carefully. We all learn in elementary school that “sharing is a sign of caring”, but sometimes sharing can unintentionally spread germs. Remind your child to not share drinks or food with other kids, and make sure that he or she knows not to share hats, hairbrushes or hair ties.

Following these tips can help to reduce your child’s risk of catching common illnesses, but there will be times when, despite your best efforts, your child will catch a classroom bug and have to stay home from school.

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