Swine flu, a strain of the virus that commonly infects pigs, passed to people in 2009. That strain, now known as 2009H1N1, caused a global pandemic throughout 2009. The pandemic expired in August of 2010; however, because the virus is still floating around, you should take steps to protect your family from 2009H1N1 and other active strains of the influenza virus. While you’re protecting your family, make sure you protect others, too. If you or your children have any flulike symptoms, stay home from work or school until the symptoms disappear and consult your health care professional.
Get a yearly flu vaccine for yourself and your family. The vaccine for swine flu is included in the seasonal vaccine starting in 2010. If you don’t have a regular doctor, you can get the vaccine at many drugstores, supermarkets or clinics. Your children may be able to get the flu shot at school. Vaccination is the best way to prevent swine flu and other strains of the virus, according to the CDC.
Wash your hands often and tell your children to wash theirs. Show your children the proper way to wash their hands: using hand soap and lathering for at least 20 seconds.
Stash small bottles of hand sanitizer in your purse and in your children’s backpacks to use when hand washing is not possible. Tell your children to use it before eating lunch at school. The alcohol in most hand sanitizers kills the flu virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Use tissues when you cough or sneeze. Don’t sneeze into your hands or into the plain air. Toss the tissues in the trash right away. Teach your children to sneeze or cough into their elbow or shoulder when a tissue isn’t readily available. Always have your children wash their hands — and wash your own — right after sneezing or coughing.
Keep your hands out of your eyes, nose and mouth and teach your children the same. If you have any type of virus on your hands, you can transfer it into your body by touching a mucous membrane.