Child care providers on high alert as flu spreads

Sick kids sent home from day care

INDIANAPOLIS - Hospital officials aren't the only ones taking precautions amid the growing flu concerns.

State officials say 17 Hoosiers died just this week from flu-related illnesses, and the numbers have child care providers on alert.

After playing cards, building blocks or just horsing around, it's time to wash your hands at Indianapolis’ IU Health Early Care and Education Center.

“I am obsessed about it and actually my son asked me, 'Why do you keep squeezing this stuff on our hands?' but you just can't do that enough," said parent Chris Wolff.

"Some of our children are here anywhere from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and that environment must be clean at all times," said the center's CEO, Carolyn Dederer.

Indiana health officials say this season's flu has claimed 27 lives, leading to new medical restrictions not seen since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. But leaders with Day Nursery say the ABCs of cleanliness are working.

They say they haven't seen a spike in illnesses.

"By state law, any child that walks through the doors of a child care center with cold- or flu-like symptoms is sent home by staff and asked to stay home until at least 24 hours after the symptoms go away," said Dederer. "Often it's a hardship on the family. They're using this center oftentime because they need to get to work, but we can't help it. It's the law."

The Marion County Health Department expects this year's outbreak will wind down by the end of the month.

In the meantime, health officials continue trying to convince naysayers to get the flu vaccine.

“I know it's a precaution to try to keep them from getting it, but it's kind of neither here nor there for me," said parent Fatima Courtney.

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