The government has issued a warning to parents: as soon as the H1N1 vaccine is available, vaccinate your kids.
The CDC says vaccinating against the H1N1 flu should not replace a seasonal flu vaccine -- it should be in addition to it. That flu shot is recommended for those with seriously depressed immune systems or chronic health issues, very young children, people older than 65, and pregnant women.
In addition, the CDC recommends:
All members of the household should wash their hands frequently, using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Antibacterial soaps are no better than ordinary soaps, since swine flu is caused by a virus, not by bacteria.
Teach children to use tissues to cover the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. If tissues are unavailable, the crook of an elbow or a shoulder is a good substitute -- not the hands, which can spread the virus to whatever they touch.
Anyone who becomes sick -- flu symptoms include fever, sore throat, coughing, chills, fatigue, and a runny nose -- should stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone. If symptoms worsen, children should extend their stay at home for seven more days, no matter how soon they feel better. This means home, not just out of school. "Children shouldn't be ... mixing in crowds or going to malls when they are sick," said Lance Chilton, a member of the CDC's advisory committee on immunization practices. And once any member of a household gets sick, all school-age children should remain home for five days.
Children should receive emergency care if their breathing becomes rapid or if they have trouble breathing, develop bluish or gray skin color, severe or persistent vomiting, or if their flu-like symptoms improve but come back with a fever and more severe cough. Resistance to drinking adequate amounts of water, irritability, and a difficulty waking up and interacting with others are also warning signs.
Adults who experience difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, and flu-like symptoms that improve but come back with a fever and more severe cough should also seek emergency care.
For more information, check out these resources: