Today’s Editorial August 26: Take swine flu precautions

Swine flu in our schools; it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

As parents get ready to send their young charges back to the hallowed halls of education this fall they can count on packing a couple more goodies in their children’s book bags – hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes.

Parents are the main line of defence in this fight against flu in our school systems. Sick children must be kept at home.

As schools start back up, families are returning from summer time vacations where they might have encountered someone with the H1N1 strain of flu.

When children step into their schools’ hallways they will see posters reminding them to cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing as well as other tips to keep flu germs to themselves.

Unfortunately there is no vaccine for the swine flu, yet. But when one does come available, parents are urged to ensure their children do get inoculated.

A panel of health experts drawn up by the Centers for Disease Control in the United States recommends that the most vulnerable among us – pregnant women, children older than six months old and young adults up to age 25 – be first in line for a swine flu vaccine.

Health care workers and emergency responders as well as infant caretakers and adults with poor immune systems or chronic disorders would also rank among the highest priority groups for the vaccine.

Unlike the seasonal flu, which hits the elderly hardest, the swine flu’s worst impact falls on people aged five to 24.

For now Government has no plans to close schools because of swine flu. That’s why it is even more incumbent on all of us to do our part to make sure this flu doesn’t spread.

Health experts recommend these steps to lower the chances of contracting either the seasonal or swine flu: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then wash your hands with soap and water. Hands should be washed before eating or after using the bathroom. Use hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes (for example, wipe down a grocery cart’s handles). Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes, as germs enter the body that way. Avoid close contact with sick people.

All of us should take the proper precautions and be aware of swine flu symptoms – a fever of over 100 degrees, a cough and congestion. Being prepared means we will better be able to get through this swine flu season.