Healthy habits key to dodging flu, says daycare owner

A daycare centre owner in Conception Bay South is paying close attention to the flu situation in the province.
Mary Walsh, owner/operator of Merry Care daycare in Kelligrews says healthy habits are the key to keeping the flu at bay. (CBC)

A daycare centre owner in Conception Bay South is paying close attention to the flu situation in the province.

Eastern Health says while overall cases are down this season, young children and pregnant women remain at high risk of contracting the H1N1 strain.

There has also been one flu-related death reported — a person over the age of 16 — which compares to nine deaths by this time last year.

Mary Walsh, who operates Merry Care daycare in Kelligrews, said while the risk is on her radar, she noted her staff have always preached the importance of good hygiene and not spreading germs.

"I always go back to the fact that you have to make sure your routines are in place throughout the whole year," she said. "So we make sure we have good hand and sanitary routines."

That includes wiping down all common areas before the kids arrive in the morning, and re-enforcing good hand-washing and sneezing techniques throughout the day.

Flu shot not mandatory for daycare

Walsh noted while children must have their regular immunizations up-to-date to attend daycare centres in this province, the flu shot is not mandatory.

She said parents are always notified if a bug is going around, but so far this year she said there's been no sign of the flu at her business.

"You always have to be cautious though, and that begins with being healthy ... healthy foods like fresh fruit, and healthy habits," Walsh said. "We regularly talk to our kids about that ... the hand-washing, sneezing into your sleeve ...

"And I'm hoping that our children will be the teachers for the next generation; that they will say there are germs here and you should be taking precautions about it."

Walsh also hopes parents aren't depending on the flu vaccine to make sure their child stays healthy.

"The hand-washing, sanitizing, healthy eating and lots of sunshine is what's going to keep your child healthy," she said.

Eastern Health has scheduled two clinics for the high risk groups this coming weekend. One is set for Saturday at Mount Pearl Square, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The second is on Sunday at the Eastern Health building on Cordage Place in St. John's, from 1-4 p.m.

A flu clinic scheduled for Monday at Mount Pearl Square has been cancelled.