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Avoiding ‘Back-to-School’ germs, illnesses
October 6, 2016, 1:47 pm

Back to School is not just a challenging time for kids it is also a harrowing time for parents, as kids begin to catch-on, or spread, germs and illnesses from their school mates. Luckily there are simple precautions that parents can take to protect their kids from the usual barrage of back-to-school illnesses.

Health experts recommend that parents make sure children get plenty of sleep and eat a well-balanced diet. Most kids need at least nine hours of sleep each night and also ensure children get enough vitamin C to boost their immune system. Parents should also teach their children how to contain germs and keep their hands clean. Show kids how to cover their coughs and sneezes with the inside of their elbow or a tissue.

Kids must also be taught how to wash their hands properly with soap, warm water and proper scrubbing. Parents should remind their children to wash their hands frequently throughout the day, particularly before and after lunch, after using the restroom and after recess. Teaching your children to wash their hands for as long as it takes to sing the alphabet would help kill a lot of germs. Children should also be fully vaccinated.

Doctors generally recommend that children entering kindergarten should have received the following vaccines: Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Measles, mumps, rubella; Varicella (chickenpox); Seasonal influenza (flu); Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) booster and Pneumococcal vaccine. Students entering high school and college freshmen living in dormitories also need the meningococcal vaccine.

Getting vaccinated is extremely important, as many of these illnesses can be very serious, and getting vaccinated will keep your children, as well as other children, safe. Despite these prevention efforts, some children will still get sick. It is important for parents to recognize when their child has a virus or other infection and take steps to prevent spreading the illness to others. One of the most obvious signs that a child is sick: fever.

A fever of 38°C or higher is the biggest symptom to look for. If your child has a fever, then they could have a viral or bacterial infection and should likely be seen by their primary care provider. Children must be fever-free for 24 hours without medication, or on provider-prescribed medication for at least 24 hours, before they can return to school. Many parents will see that their child has a fever and give them something over the counter and send them to school. Remember, just because your child's fever went down, it does not mean that they are cured. Sending your sick child to school can cause their condition to worsen and can cause the illness to spread throughout the classroom and, eventually, the entire school.

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