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Help with asthma, and protection from flu

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WORTHINGTON -- District 518 parents are reminded to notify the school where their child attends if their child has any health condition, especially asthma. The fall of the year brings a season of higher risk to those who have allergies and asthma.

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The school encourages parents to bring an inhaler to school to be kept in the health office, or with their child, for use if their child would need it during school hours. It is important to know what triggers each child's asthma so that efforts can be made to avoid such situations. Common triggers are the change in weather, extreme cold, dust (common during the harvest season) or a respiratory infection.

With a history of asthma or other factors influence breathing, the school nurse notifies the teachers with an Emergency Care Plan that can be specifically written to address the individual's symptoms, and plan of care for an emergency situation. A medication permission form needs to be completed by the parent and doctor if the child plans to carry his/her inhaler with them during school hours, or if it is to be kept in the health office. This form is available on the district's Web site or at each schools health office.

Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting more than five million school-aged children. It is the reason 10 million school days are missed each year and thereby can have significant negative impacts on academic performance. Communication between the parents of District 518 and the school's health office is essential to plan for the care of our students with asthma.

District 518 protecting kids from influenza

District 518 is aiming to prevent an outbreak of influenza in the schools. This year, Sanford Clinic and Avera Specialty Clinic have paired up to offer flu shots in District 518 schools for the students. This is the first time this has been done in Worthington schools.

Parents were given the opportunity to pick up a permission form at either clinic and at conferences before school started, with the deadline for securing their child's injection by Sept. 15. There was a good response, especially from Prairie Elementary. Those who had submitted their forms will be getting vaccinated on Oct 22.

The school district has been part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Flu Stop program for several years, offering flu shots to all District 518 staff and their families.

The American Lung Association urges to get vaccinated throughout the entire influenza season -- October through March -- and not just at the beginning of the flu season. The association also recommends all school age children 5 through 18 years of age be vaccinated, since they are among the main transmitters of the flu virus.

Asthma is a serious respiratory illness, killing an average of 36,000 Americans and hospitalizing another 226,000 each year. It is important for the community to understand that the flu shot protects them from influenza caused by Influenza A or B, which has common symptoms of high fevers, body aches, cough, sore throat, headache and general fatigue that lasts for one to three weeks. It is not to protect against the stomach "flu," which presents with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea for a shorter duration of one to three days. Although not all strains of influenza are covered in the influenza vaccine, the most prominent and life threatening ones are the strains that it is designed to protect against.

The American Lung Association is making it a little easier for people to get their flu shot this season with its 2008-2009 Flu Clinic Locator. It is an online directory of public influenza vaccination clinics which is now available at www.flucliniclocator.org.

The American Lung Association's Flu Clinic Locator is an easy-to-use online resource that helps you find the most convenient place to get your flu shot. The locator includes more than 40,000 clinic locations across the country. It also lets you set up an appointment e-mail reminder, along with the option to sign up for influenza-specific updates throughout the season. Locally, both clinics in Worthington will begin to offer flu shots to the public sometime in late October.

Wendy Donkersloot is a District 518 nurse.

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