Illness Prevention



Remember: Sick children belong at home. Well children belong in school. And the best way to prevent infections is frequent hand washing.

  • Children with a fever over 100° should stay home until there is no fever for 24 hours. Call your doctor if your child has a fever with pain, rash, weakness, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • If a child’s eye is red with cloudy or yellow/green drainage, you should call the doctor during office hours. If an eye ointment is prescribed your child may return to school 24 hours after treatment began. All family members should wash hands frequently.
  • Children with one event of vomiting or diarrhea (watery loose bowel movement) should stay at home until at least 12 hours have passed without any further events. Call your doctor if the vomiting or diarrhea continues or if your child also has a fever, rash, or weakness. All family members should wash hands frequently.
  • Your child should stay home if he/she has a lot of ear pain. Call your doctor for treatment.
  • If your child has a sore throat and a fever, or a severe sore throat without fever, he/she should stay home from school.
  • If your child’s cough is worse than you would expect with a cold, keep him/her at home. If he/she has hard time breathing or has a fever, call your doctor.
  • If your child complains of a stomach ache, especially if he/she says it hurts to move and he/she does not want to eat, he/she should stay home. Call your doctor.
  • If your child has impetigo (red, oozing blister areas with yellow-gold scabs on the face or body) he/she should stay home for as long as your doctor says.
When there is doubt in your mind about sending your child to school, consult your child’s doctor. Remember to make sure that your child’s school knows how to reach you during the day. Please give the school all available numbers; cell, work, relatives, friends, etc.
Be prepared!
 Visit for more information on preventing tick-borne illness or download the educational materials in the files below!
Are you using your inhaler correctly?  Need a refresher demonstration?  Check out the PVAC videos on youtube of inhaler demonstrations, now with a version in Spanish! Baystate Respiratory Therapist Donna Hawk is featured in the English video demonstration and Baystate High Street Pediatrics Community Health Worker Rosa Pedraza is in the new Spanish video demonstration.



Pertussis is contagious disease only found in humans and is spread from person to person. People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by older siblings, parents or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease. Symptoms of pertussis usually develop within 7-10 days after being exposed, but sometimes not for as long as 6 weeks. If you or your child develops a cold that includes a severe cough or a cough that lasts for a long time, it may be pertussis. The best way to know is to contact your doctor.

Becoming sick with pertussis or getting pertussis vaccines do not provide lifelong protection, which means you can still get pertussis and pass it onto infants. Pertussis vaccines are effective, but not perfect. They typically offer high levels of protection within the first 2 years of getting vaccinated, but then the protection decreases over time. This i

Since the early 1980s, there has been an overall trend of an increase in reported pertussis cases. Pertussis is naturally cyclic in nature, with peaks in disease every 3-5 years. But for the past 20-30 years, we’ve seen the peaks getting higher and overall case counts going up. There are several reasons that help explain why we’re seeing more cases as of late. These include: increased awareness, improved diagnostic tests, better reporting, more circulation of the bacteria, and waning immunity.s known as waning immunity. Similarly, natural infection may also only protect you for a few years. In general, DTaP vaccines are 80-90% effective. Among those children who get all 5 doses of DTaP on schedule, effectiveness is very high within the year following the 5th dose – at least 9 out of 10 children are fully protected. There is a modest decrease in effectiveness in each following year. About 7 out of 10 children are fully protected 5 years after getting their last dose of DTaP and the other 3 out of 10 children are partially protected – protecting against serious disease. The CDC’s current estimate is that DTaP vaccination protects 7 out of 10 people who receive it.

Pertussis fact sheets in English and Spanish are available from your school nurse or the Massachusetts Department of Public health website.


As a parent, you want to do everything possible to protect your children from the flu. This is especially important when a new flu virus like H1N1 flu is spreading. As you may know, flu can be easily spread from person to person. It’s important to remember that any flu virus can cause serious illness.  During the spring/fall 2009 H1N1 flu outbreaks, school-age youth were the most affected group. So as the new school year begins, we pledge to give you the most up-to-date information about the situation, based on the most recent guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), who we work with very closely.

How parents can help:

Question: “What can I do to keep my child from getting sick?”

It is important to teach your children how to reduce their risk of getting the flu and how to protect others from becoming infected. If we all practice good hygiene, we can limit the spread of flu in our schools.

  • Get your child the seasonal flu shot. Vaccination is the best way to keep your child from getting the flu.
  • ·Teach your children to wash their hands often. Washing with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds is ideal (about as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice).
  • Teach your children to use hand sanitizer. Gels, rubs, and hand wipes all work well, as long as they contain at least 60% alcohol. Watch small children using gels so they don’t swallow it.
  • Teach your children to cough or sneeze into their elbow—not their hands! Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or by coughing into the inside of their elbow. They should wash their hands after blowing their nose or coughing into a tissue.
  • Teach your children to avoid touching their nose, mouth or eyes. They should keep their hands away from their face.

Question: “What should I do if my child is sick?”

Flu spreads easily from person to person. Flu-like symptoms include fever (over 100.4 degrees F), with cough and/or sore throat. Additional symptoms of H1N1 flu include: runny nose, stuffy nose, headache, body aches, feeling very tired, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea.

If you think your child is getting the flu:

  • Keep your child home. It is very important that your child does not go to school or other places where they could spread the flu virus to other people, such as group childcare, after school programs, the mall, or sporting events.
  • Call your doctor’s office and let them know your child’s symptoms and history. Your doctor will advise you whether you should come to the office. It is best to call ahead so that you help prevent spreading illness to others.
  • Call your child’s school to notify them that they are sick, and tell the school nurse if your child has flu-like symptoms.
  • Keep your school nurse updated on your child’s medical condition.
  • Do not give your child or teenager (18 years of age or younger) aspirin or aspirin-containing products due to the rare but serious illness called Reye syndrome.
  • All individuals with flu-like symptoms should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, without using fever-reducing medicines. These medicines include Motrin or Advil (ibuprofen), Tylenol (acetaminophen) or a store brand. Keeping children with a fever at home will keep them from getting other people sick. For most people, this will be about 4 days. See the ‘Flu Symptom Checklist for Families and Schools’ below for more information.

For information on influenza, including: current activity in Massachusetts, signs and symptoms of infection, self-care for flu and immunization information, click here.


This year there has been a significant increase in the number of EEE and WNV mosquitoes and EEE activity in mammals throughout the State.  The Department of Public Health is urging residents who live in areas of elevated risk to take personal protective measures to protect themselves against mosquito bites.  Parents play an important role in protecting themselves and their family from illness caused by mosquitoes. Please refer to the EEE informational documents below for helpful tips.