As thousands of pupils return to school this week, parents are being advised what to do to try to prevent the spread of flu.
Amid rising numbers of people being diagnosed with seasonal flu, Scotland’s chief medical officer has downplayed fears that a return to school after the festive break will prompt a widespread outbreak of flu.
Dr Harry Burns’ message to parents is “be alert, not alarmed,” urging parents to encourage children to follow basic hygiene steps.
Dr Burns is asking parents to ensure children understand the importance of covering their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, binning the tissue and washing their hands thoroughly. He also reminds parents to have high-risk-group children vaccinated as a priority.
“I want to encourage them to be alert, not alarmed about flu,” he said. “We are experiencing the normal seasonal flu outbreak. No need for alarm, but parents should remain vigilant.
“There are steps all parents and carers can take to help protect their child. Vaccination is the most important way for those at greater risk to protect themselves, so parents should ensure that if they or their children are in an at-risk group they have taken up the offer of flu vaccination.
“It is important children understand the importance of covering their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, putting the tissue in the bin and then thoroughly washing their hands.
“Seasonal flu will cause mild illness that can safely be managed at home for the vast majority of patients. If parents are worried about their child’s flu, they should contact their GP, their out-of-hours service or NHS 24.
“Following these simple steps can help minimise the risk of catching flu, so I’d urge parents to go through them with their children before they return to school.”
Every year in Scotland a million doses of seasonal flu vaccine are made available to those over 65 and people of any age at risk of complications as a result of flu.
A group that advises governments across the UK on vaccination doesn’t recommend flu vaccination routinely for children. Only those children with a medical condition that puts them at risk will be offered the vaccine and will be notified by their own GP practice.