What is Influenza (Flu)?
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
Differences Between Influenza and COVID-19
How Flu Spreads
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.
Schools and Childcare Providers
Influenza causes more hospitalizations among young children than any other vaccine-preventable disease. The single best way to protect against seasonal flu and its potential severe complications is for children to get their flu shot each year. Flu vaccination is recommended for all children aged 6 months and older. Making healthy choices at school and at home can help prevent the flu and spreading flu to others.
Encourage staff, parents and children to take the following precautions to help prevent the spread of the flu in your school:
- Get your yearly flu shot
- Stay home when sick.
- Clean and sanitize surfaces objects frequently
- Practice good hand hygiene and sneezing and coughing into tissues.
The Flu: A Guide for Parents
School Materials and Posters
"It's a SNAP" toolkit provides activities for school administrators, teachers, students and others to help stop the spread of germs in schools. For more information, visit "It's a SNAP" Website.
The Scrub Club can help students learn about health and hygiene. The site features fun and educational materials for teachers to download.
Influenza and the Workplace
Employees are a crucial resource at any business. There are steps you can take now, and during the flu season, to help protect the health of your employees.
- Encourage employees to get a flu shot every fall.
- Consider hosting an employee flu shot clinic.
- Provide resources on where employees can go to get a flu shot.
- Review sick leave policies to allow sick employees to stay home with out fear of reprisals. Develop other flexible policies to allow workers to telework (if feasible).
- Advise employees to stay home if sick until at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without the use of fever- reducing medicines.
- Employees who appear to have a flu symptoms upon arrival or become sick during the work day should be promptly separated from others and asked to go home.
- Provide resources at work that promotes preventative actions to reduce the spread of the flu. (tissues, no touch trash cans, hand soap and/or hand sanitizers)
- Encourage respiratory etiquette and encourage hand hygiene.
- Provide resources and education about employees who may be at high risk for flu complications. (pregnant women, adults with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes)
Additional Educational Resources and Materials
What is Community Immunity?
Community (or herd) immunity helps slow down and stop the spread of disease among people. Community immunity only works when most people in the community have immunity to the disease. People become immune by getting vaccinated or by having had the disease. For some diseases, like pertussis (whooping cough) and measles, at least 9 out of 10 of us must have immunity to keep the diseases from spreading. Community immunity protects us all. Learn more about how community immunity works.
Who Depends on Community Immunity?
We all do, but especially those who can’t fight diseases or are not immune. When you choose to immunize yourself and your family, you also help protect others at risk, like:
- Infants and the elderly who cannot get vaccines because they are too young or too old.
- People with weak immune systems, like those with heart disease or cancer.
- People who are not fully immunized.
Does My Community Have Immunity?
Ask your child care, preschool, or school about their immunization rates. You can find kindergarten immunization rates for Washington State elementary schools here.
Immunize your child on time. Make sure you and your child’s caregivers get immunized too.
Speak up by telling others that your child is fully immunized. Make sure your friends and neighbors know about the risks of not immunizing and the benefits of community immunity.
- Content Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)
- Content Source: Washington State Department of Health @(Model.BulletStyle == CivicPlus.Entities.Modules.Layout.Enums.BulletStyle.Decimal ? "ol" : "ul")>