Influenza (Flu) in Arizona

Information for Schools & Childcare Facilities

Influenza can affect people of all ages, but can be more severe in children under five years old. Each year an average of 20,000 children in the U.S. under the age of 5 years are hospitalized because of flu complications, more than for any other vaccine-preventable disease. Children who have asthma or other medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease are also at higher risk of complications.

The single best way to protect against seasonal flu and its potential severe complications is for children to get a seasonal influenza vaccine each year. Flu vaccination is recommended for all children aged 6 months and older.

Schools and childcare facilities can encourage students, staff, young children, and their families to get vaccinated each year by providing information about flu and flu vaccines, and by working with the local health department to hold vaccination clinics at the schools. Facilities can also encourage routine, proper cleaning of surfaces that are commonly touched, including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones.

In addition, schools and childcare facilities can encourage children to follow some simple, healthy behaviors to help prevent the spread of flu and other illnesses. People of all ages should:

  • Wash their hands often with soap and water, especially before eating, after coughing or sneezing, and after using the toilet. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, and throw away the tissue after using it.
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when they are sick. Anyone who has flu or a flu-like illness should stay home from school, work, or other activities until at least 24 hours after the fever has gone away without the use of fever-reducing medications.

See the CDC's website for more information for schools and childcare providers about specific recommendations and policies that can help prevent flu in K-12 schools and childcare facilities. The site also has materials for encouraging healthy behaviors in children, guidance for setting up a school-located vaccination clinic, and posters for educating children about flu and good health habits.

Other Resources

  • Arizona Department of Health Services
    • Guidelines for Controlling Influenza-Like Illness Outbreaks in Schools and Childcare FacilitiesPDF
      An outbreak of influenza-like illness in a school or childcare center is a sudden increase in the number of people with fever and a cough or sore throat, OR five ill students or staff in one week in a single classroom, sports team, after school group, or other linked group. If more than 10% of students in a classroom or other defined group are absent because of illness, this might also be an outbreak. If a school or childcare facility believes they may have an outbreak, they should call their local health department and follow the guidelines in the above link to help prevent more people from getting sick.
  • Arizona Department of Education
    • The School Safety and Prevention unit at the Arizona Department of Education works with ADHS to provide resources for schools to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
  • Environmental Protection Agency