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Little hands, little mouths: How to stay healthy

Teaching chilren to wash handsBeing Dr. Mom is a tough job. You work hard all year round to ensure that you're practicing the best prevention habits to protect your family from various germs and illnesses, such as influenza. While you do all you can to protect your kids at home, remember that schools and daycare centres are places where children are constantly interacting with each other - often touching their noses, eyes and mouths - allowing germs to spread easily. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to ensure you and your loved ones stay healthy no matter where you are.

The influenza virus is usually spread from person to person by respiratory secretions (from either the nose and/or the mouth). Washing little ones' hands frequently, especially after contact with the mouth or nose area, has been shown to decrease the spread of viruses. Teaching them to cough or sneeze into their upper sleeves also prevents transmission. It's a great idea to teach children these approaches at an early age, so that they develop good preventative habits. In addition, be aware of common surfaces at home (kitchen and bathroom counters, toys, key pads, door handles, phones, eating utensils) and try to keep them clean.

Yearly immunization is the primary method for managing the spread of influenza. By simply getting an influenza immunization, you can reduce yours and your child's risk of contracting influenza by 70 to 90 per cent. Research also shows that immunizing children over the age of six months reduces influenza symptoms in all household members by about 42 per cent. And, as respiratory infection spreads primarily through children and teenagers, immunizing all household members reduces fever and illness symptoms by up to 80 per cent.

Talk to your health care provider about your family's "stay healthy" plan and visit for more information on influenza immunization and details on where to find an influenza immunization clinic in your area.