New Guidelines to Protect Kids from Flu

Veronica Jiminez
Veronica Jiminez and her mother Madilyn Marchante shop for school supplies -- which will include disinfecting solution, to help keep Veronica protected against the H1N1 virus.
CBS

With H1N1 expected to surge in the fall, Veronica Jiminez's back-to-school list includes Kleenex, disinfecting solution and an extra dose of caution.

"She might look like a little hypochondriac but at the same time we're protecting them," said Madilyn Marchante, Veronica's mother.

Bracing for a resurgence of H1N1, the CDC issued new guidelines Friday, including a change in how long most children should stay home if they come down with the flu, reports CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.

"It used to be seven days, now it's 24 hours after fever goes away," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC.

While the CDC expects the impact of H1N1 on schools will be worse this fall than last spring, officials believe the benefits of closing schools are often outweighed by the disruption.

"You may reduce the spread of flu for a period of time, but you also increase the number of kids who may be unsupervised," Frieden said. "You may add social stresses in the community."

Because outbreaks of flu are so hard to contain, health experts are focused on vaccination rather than relying on anti-viral medications. A new analysis finds that Tamiflu and Relenza only reduce symptoms from seasonal flu by a day at most.

"Our scientists are working hard to have a vaccine ready for consumption by mid-October," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

Friday the first of several thousand Americans got the experimental H1N1 vaccine in several locations to test its safety.

Patients will most likely need two doses, three weeks apart. Two forms of the vaccine are being tested - a shot and a nasal spray.

Whatever happens with the new vaccine, experts strongly advise getting the regular seasonal flu vaccine as soon as possible. It should start to become available at the end of this month.

  • Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for CBS News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook