October brings with it the beginning of flu season, but now 130 third graders at Davison Avenue Intermediate School in Lynbrook are better prepared to protect themselves against the flu after participating in a fun, hands-on flu prevention demonstration put on by NYU Winthrop Hospital. Ranekka Dean, PhD, RN, director of infection prevention at NYU Winthrop, recently visited the school to lead the educational forum that included song: If you’re happy and you know it scrub your hands! Schoolchildren happily broke out in melody, singing two bars of that song, which takes up about the 15-20 seconds required to properly wash hands to prevent the spreading germs. Dr. Dean provided a variety of other useful tips aimed at slowing the spread of the flu, which last season caused more than half-million hospitalizations and more than 36,000 deaths in the U.S. Australia’s flu season, which is often a predictor for the U.S., has had an unusually severe flu season this year, and already New York state has regions with “severe” warnings of flu outbreaks.
“It’s important to educate children about flu prevention since they are among the most vulnerable populations,” said Dr. Dean. “We can help keep our schools and homes safer if we all take basic measures aimed at infection prevention.”
Young children are at a higher risk of developing flu-like complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections, and children with serious health conditions such as asthma and diabetes are also more susceptible to flu. Parents are advised to keep sick children home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without using medications to reduce fever.
“Dr. Dean engaged our students with a fun and interactive flu-prevention program that left the children eager to share what they learned—by word and song—with their teachers, peers, and family members,” added principal Rachel Gross. “I’m certain we’ll all be singing the washing-hands song at Davison Avenue Intermediate School for many months to come.”