The collaboration has produced tangible results. Hundreds of kits were recently sent to childcare providers throughout the county to help them plan for and manage a flu pandemic.
"The material about pandemic flu preparation will also be helpful in preparing for any disaster, including earthquakes and preventing the spread of any infectious diseases," said CCHS Director of Communicable Disease Programs Francie Wise, quoting the kit's cover letter. "This kit is an initial communication to childcare providers and will be followed by other materials about communicable disease."
The kit, available online in English and Spanish at www.cchealth.org, features fact sheets, posters, a brochure, lesson plans, checklists and lists of health tips and information resources.
Other partners in the project include the Contra Costa County Office of Education and Employment and Human Services Department; Contra Costa Child Care Council; California Department of Social Services; Diablo Valley College Child Care Program; First 5 Contra Costa; Local Planning Council for Child Care and Development; and San Ramon Valley Child Care Association.
"Now we have pandemic flu materials available on the Web for schools and childcare providers, as well as other businesses," said Wise, referring to materials available on the department's Web site. "Awareness on the part of those institutions would be essential in saving the lives of vulnerable young people in the event of a pandemic."
Influenza causes an estimated 36,000 deaths and more than 200,000 hospitalizations in the United States each year. Wise said the vaccine for seasonal flu is recommended annually for all children 6 months and older, along with their care providers.
Pandemic flu is flu that causes a global outbreak of serious illness that spreads easily from person to person and for which there is no vaccine. There is no pandemic flu anywhere in the world at this time.
The "Interim Pre-pandemic Planning Guidance" recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that increasing distance between people may be critical in controlling a pandemic, adding, "Social density is greatest in pre-school classrooms …"
The CDC guidance also establishes several levels of pandemic and recommends that schools and childcare facilities not be closed to limit the spread of disease until the pandemic reaches Category 2 or 3.
"I was very pleased to receive this kit in the mail," said Theresa Skrentny, a family childcare provider and president of the San Ramon Valley Child Care Association. "Classrooms and childcare settings are vulnerable to germs and viruses, so we work hard on teaching children and parents how important washing their hands and covering their cough is. This kit will support our efforts to keep children healthy."
For more information about flu or other health topics in Contra Costa County, visit the CCHS Web site, www.cchealth.org, and click on Health Topics.