By Kelly Long, RN, School Nurse
Each year millions of people are diagnosed with Influenza and Charlotte Prep is no exception. I begin seeing diagnosed cases of the flu around October or November. And once it’s here, it doesn’t want to leave! Consider our population. Our very young students have difficulty understanding personal boundaries—and there it spreads. Our older students love to share screens and take selfies—and there it spreads. Then they come home to you—and there it spreads.
How does it spread? It spreads from droplets that come from our mouths when we talk, sneeze, or cough and land in the mouths or noses of those around us. It is less likely to be transferred from contaminated hands touching the nose, mouth, and eyes. But many other illnesses can easily be transmitted this way.
How can we protect ourselves? Get Vaccinated—it’s the most important step in flu prevention! I know what you’re thinking—easy for me to say since I don’t have to take your child to get a shot! So many children (and adults) fear needles. I get it. I had one of those kids, and I was one of those kids.
I have learned a few tips and tricks along the way to help with these appointments. For our youngest students, it’s a great idea to purchase a toy doctor’s kit. You can take turns being the doctor. This helps them see what will actually happen at the MD’s office. There are books available that may help prepare your child as well. When it’s time for the injection, distraction can’t hurt. Redirecting can be accomplished by pointing out something interesting in the office or pulling something up on your phone. And last but not least, consider bringing a favorite snuggly blanket or stuffed animal for comfort.
Distraction is still a good tool for the Lower and Middle School-aged child. In the early years of taking my son to the pediatrician, I started the tradition of playing “I Spy” as soon as we entered the room. It took his mind off of what was going to happen and kept his anxiety low. When I took him for his last “well child” visit this fall (he just turned 18—sniff sniff), I asked if he wanted to play I Spy. He grinned and said “Sure, I’ll play with you” (sniff sniff again). Watching something on an iPad or phone can also distract and assist in controlling anxiety.
What if the anxiety skyrockets anyway? Please don’t restrain your child for the injection. It’s okay to hug but if it is necessary to restrain, leave the room. Parents should be agents of comfort only. It is very important to be honest about whether the injection will be painful. It does hurt, but focus on how quickly the pain goes away. If your child is very fearful, try icing the site for a few minutes first. There are also topical numbing ointments you can try. You can apply them to the site and put plastic wrap around the arm to keep it in place for the specified time it takes for effectiveness. These tips won’t prevent pain completely but may dull it a bit.
As always, I am here to speak with your child if you believe it will help.