As winter continues, health professionals anticipate that infections of influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) will increase among children in early childhood education and care services and the early years of school.
Most children experience mild to moderate illness with symptoms such as fever, runny nose or cough. Some children, particularly babies and children with underlying medical conditions, can develop more severe illness.
To help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses this winter, please follow the tips outlined below.
How to reduce the spread of flu and respiratory illnesses
Services should encourage staff and children to:
- wash and sanitise their hands regularly
- avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- cover their nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze
- use air purifiers
- maximise external ventilation
- stay home if unwell and consult their GP or NURSE-ON-CALL as required
- stay up to date with their flu vaccinations.
Our service has masks for staff and visitors if they want to wear them.
Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and over.
Flu vaccines can be booked through GPs, pharmacies, or local council immunisation service, many of which can also provide COVID-19 vaccinations.
Free flu vaccines are available as part of the National Immunisation Program for:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and older
- children aged 6 months to under 5 years
- people aged 6 months or older with underlying medical conditions.
Resources to promote good habits
For support sharing this information with staff, children, parents and carers in your community, we have prepared the below draft text you can use in your newsletters or communications. For further information, please refer to the resources listed below:
- Stay well this winter on the Better Health Channel, translated into 16 languages.
- Influenza and immunisation on the Better Health Channel
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) on the Better Health Channel
- Influenza and RSV fact sheets for families from the Royal Children’s Hospital
- Getting vaccinated against influenza – resource collection
- Be a soapy hero! – additional resources for children about washing their hands properly.
Newsletter text about staying well this winter
Share this newsletter text with your community to let them know about measures they can take to prevent influenza and other respiratory illnesses.
Find out more
Early childhood education and care services will shortly receive more information about the management of notifiable diseases. In the meantime, if you have any questions, see Local Public Health Units | health.vic.gov.au.