Health Services Partners with Other Agencies to Prepare Child Care Programs for Pandemic Flu
March 7, 2007
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) is partnering with several other local agencies in following the lead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by planning to prevent or control a pandemic flu outbreak.
This local collaboration has resulted in the mailing this week of hundreds of kits designed to help child care providers throughout the county plan for and handle a pandemic flu.
"The material about pandemic flu preparation will also be helpful in preparing for any disaster, including earthquakes and preventing the spread of any infectious diseases," said Francie Wise, CCHS Director of Communicable Disease Programs, quoting the kit's cover letter. "This kit is an initial communication to child care providers and will be followed by other materials about communicable disease."
The kit, which is available online in English and Spanish at cchealth.org, features fact sheets, posters, a brochure, lesson plans, checklists and lists of health tips and information resources. [http://www.cchealth.org/topics/pandemic_flu/child_care_provider_kit/]
Other partners in the project include the Contra Costa County Office of Education and Employment and Human Services Department; Contra Costa Child Care Council; California Department of Social Services; Diablo Valley College Child Care Program; First Five Contra Costa; Local Planning Council for Child Care and Development; and San Ramon Valley Child Care Association.
"Now we have pandemic flu materials available on the web for schools and child care providers, as well as other businesses," said Wise, referring to materials available at cchealth.org/topics/pandemic_flu/ on the health department website. "Awareness on the part of those institutions would be essential in saving the lives of vulnerable young people in the event of a pandemic."
Influenza, also known as the flu, causes an estimated 36,000 deaths and more than 200,000 hospitalizations in the United States each year. Wise said the vaccine for seasonal flu is recommended annually for all children 6 months and older, along with their care providers.
Pandemic flu is a particular kind of flu that causes a global outbreak, or pandemic, of serious illness that spreads easily from person to person and for which there is no vaccine. There is no pandemic flu anywhere in the world at this time.
The "Interim Pre-pandemic Planning Guidance" recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that increasing distance between people may be critical in controlling a pandemic, adding, "Social density is greatest in pre-school classrooms..."
The CDC Guidance also establishes several levels of pandemic and recommends that schools and child care facilities not be closed to limit the spread of disease until the pandemic reaches Category 2 or 3.
"I was very pleased to receive this kit in the mail," said Theresa Skrentny, a family child care provider who is president of the San Ramon Valley Child Care Association. "Classrooms and child care settings are vulnerable to germs and viruses, so we work hard on teaching children and parents how important washing their hands and covering their cough is. This kit will support our efforts to keep children healthy."
For more information about flu or other health topics in Contra Costa County, visit the Contra Costa Health Services website at cchealth.org and click on Health Topics.
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- Julie Freestone