Protect your school-going child from infectious diseases

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Find out how to protect your child from contracting various infectious diseases once he starts school…

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Starting primary school is a huge milestone in your child's life.

When kids start school, parents strive to keep their kids healthy so missing classes is minimised as much as possible. Healthy, happy, active and well-nourished children are more likely to attend school, be engaged and ready to learn¹.

However, poor health may affect a student’s attendance, grades and ability to learn in school¹.

It may be impossible to generalise that all such health problems are preventable. However, certain infectious diseases caused by bacteria and viruses in children can be prevented by vaccination2. 

 

Protecting your kids from infectious diseases in school

 Entering Primary 1

With reference to Singapore’s National Childhood Immunisation Schedule, all children (Singapore Citizens and Non-Singapore Citizens) should have completed the recommended immunisations before entry into Primary One3.

You should produce your child’s immunisation certificates at the time of registration for the following3:

  • BCG
  • Diphteria
  • Pertussis
  • Tetanus
  • Poliomyelitis / Poliovirus
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Hepatitis B

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Infectious diseases your child could catch in school

When you have a school-going child, you may feel that your kids fall ill quite frequently.

However, there are a few illnesses against which you can protect your child through vaccination, such as pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis A, chickenpox and influenza4.

 

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PERTUSSIS

Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is a very contagious respiratory disease5

Here are some facts about this disease:

  • It is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis5.
  • Pertussis is spread through the air from person to person4.
  • At first it may look like your child has the common cold, but after 1 or 2 weeks, a child with pertussis is overcome with coughing spells so violent that it can interfere with eating, drinking and even breathing4.
  • Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain infection, and death4.
  • Pertussis rates have been increasing in recent years, with more than half of cases occurring among children who are not completely immunized4.

 Prevention

The best way to protect children from whooping cough is to vaccinate them against it5.

Find out more about common diseases school-going kids may get on the next page...

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HEPATITIS A

The hepatitis A virus causes liver disease, which can result in fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, stomach pain, vomiting and jaundice4.

Here are some more facts about this disease:

  • Hepatitis A is a liver inflammation caused by infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV)6.
  • The hepatitis A virus is found mainly in bowel movements and is spread by personal contact or through contaminated food or water4.

 Prevention

  • The best way to prevent hepatitis A is by vaccination6.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet, before preparing and eating food6.

You can find out more about hepatitis A from this article: What you need to know about hepatitis A.

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CHICKENPOX

We've all heard of chickenpox (also known as varicella) and most of you reading this may have even have had this disease as a child.

Here are some facts about this common childhood disease4:

  • The main symptom of chickenpox is an itchy rash all over the body, usually accompanied by fever and drowsiness.
  • It spreads from person to person though the air, or through contact with fluid from the rash.
  • Chickenpox is usually mild, but may cause skin infections and encephalitis (brain damage).
  • After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays in the body and can re-emerge years later to cause a painful condition called shingles.

Prevention

  • Chickenpox can be prevented through vaccination7.

 You can find out more about chickenpox from this article: All you need to know about Chickenpox.

More important information on the next page...

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INFLUENZA (FLU)

People often confuse flu with the common cold, but the former is quite different.

Here are some facts about the disease8:

  • Flu can spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.
  • The flu virus is transmitted through the air via droplets, which other people may breathe in.
  • The virus can also spread indirectly when a person touches a surface which is contaminated (e.g. a door knob), and then touches his/her mouth or nose.
  • Severe cases may lead to pneumonia, bronchitis or meningitis.

Prevention

There are many ways to prevent the spread of flu and to protect your child against this infection:

  • Annual influenza vaccination is recommended to protect against influenza, especially for individuals belonging to populations at higher risk of complications of influenza9.
  •  Practise healthy habits, good personal hygiene and be socially responsible8:
    • Wash hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water.
    • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
    • Do not go to school and see a doctor when ill.
    • When sharing food at meal times, use a serving spoon.
  •  Lead a healthy lifestyle8:
    • Eat a balanced diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables.
    • Do regular physical activity.
    • Have enough sleep and rest.

 You can find out more about flu from this article: What is the flu and why should we take it seriously?

 

If you have further questions about these diseases, please discuss these with your child's doctor. 

 

References:

  1. WestEd and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco; The Critical Connection between Student Health and Academic Achievement: How schools and policy-makers can achieve a positive impact; Available from: system2.ipressroom.com/pr/tce/document/WhitePaper_10_23_09_v9.pdf; Last accessed 24/06/14.
  2. Health Promotion Board; Immunisation for Primary School; Available from www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/health-article/630; Last accessed 29/09/14.
  3. Ministry of Education Singapore; Required Documents for Primary One Registration Exercise; Available from www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/primary-one-registration/required-documents/; Last accessed 29/09/14.
  4. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Parent's Guide to Childhood Immunizations; Available from www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/parents-guide/downloads/parents-guide-508.pdf; Last accessed 24/06/14.
  5. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention; Pertussis; Available from www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/index.html; Last accessed 12/02/14.
  6. Health Promotion Board; Hepatitis A; Available from www.hpb.gov.sg/diseases/article.aspx?id=534; Last accessed on 03/12/13.
  7. Health Promotion Board Singapore; Chickenpox; Available from www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/dandc-article/6432; Last accessed on 10/06/14.
  8. Health Promotion Board Singapore; Disease and Conditions – Influenza; Available from www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/dandc-article/552; Last accessed on 08/05/14.
  9. Ministry of health; Influenza; Available from www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/diseases_and_conditions/i/influenza.html; Last accessed 23/05/14.

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