Two weeks ago, my little Kaiju had a bout with the flu. In this post I’ll share all you need to know when it comes to toddlers, daycare, and the flu in Japan.
NOTE: All information here is based on procedures from our daycare and clinic. Be sure to check with your daycare and healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.
Determining If Your Child Has The Flu
How do you know when your child has the flu? It’s very likely that by now (unfortunately) a few kids in your child’s class have already gotten the flu. The good thing is, you’re likely to be on guard.
How I found out my girl had the flu is during our morning routine of writing in the communication book and daily temperature check. Even though she looked completely normal, her temperature was almost 39.0 C!
Our daycare already had a rule in place that any child with a high fever can not return without a “permission slip” (登園許可書 | touen kyokasho).
To rule out the possibility to the flu, we went to our clinic for a checkup (診察 | shinsatsu) and flu test (インフルエンザ迅速検査 | infuruenza jinsoku kensa).
The Flu Test
The pediatrician tested her for Type A (A型 | ei gata) and Type B (B型 | bi- gata) influenza. The flu test is fairly simple — a doctor uses a long swab to get a sample from the back of the nasal cavity and results are ready within 10-15 minutes.
Note: Whether you want to confirm/rule out the possibility of the flu, don’t rush into taking the test as it’s rather painful (though the actual process takes less than 30 seconds). Our clinic actually advises parents to hold off on a flu test and wait between 12 to 24 hours after getting a high temperature reading.
Once your child has been properly diagnosed with the flu, you’ll likely get a prescription (処方せん | shohousen) for Tamiflu (タミフル | tamifuru) or other medication.
In the case of Tamiflu, take it twice daily for 5 days, with the first dosage immediately after diagnosis. Both my doctor and pharmacist stressed the importance of watching little Kaiju like a hawk during the first 48 hours and to notify emergency services if she did anything usual. That really scared me!
As the flu is very contagious, your child won’t be allowed to attend daycare for at least 5 days. A general rule of thumb is 4 days after the high fever subsides (解熱 | kainetsu). Even special daycares that deal with sick kids won’t be able to accommodate your child.
That likely means you or your partner will miss a few days a work to take care of your child. Be aware that there is a law that allows parents to take up to 5 days off from work per fiscal year to take care of their kids. (10 days if you have two or more kids; half days are also possible). This law does not stipulate whether the days off are paid or unpaid, but it helps!
For more information on 子の看護休暇制度 (ko no kango kyuuka seido) check out this PDF from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (text in Japanese).
After 4 days have passed since your child’s temperature subsided, you can return to your clinic for a checkup. It all goes well, you will get a document certifying that your child is no longer contagious and well enough to return to school. This is a chiyu shoumeisho (治癒証明書).
What To Have On Hand
(水分補給 | suibun hokyuu)
My girl’s drink of choice is barley tea (麦茶 | mugi cha), a caffeine-free tea popular among kids in Japan. But, while she was sick all she wanted to do was nurse. We were doing so well with night weaning, too…
Cooling Gel Pads
(冷却シート | reikyaku shi-to)
I often see these on the foreheads of kids, but my husband who is a ~medical professional~ insists that they are more effective when applied under the armpit. I think as long as you can give your kids some relief anywhere is ok! Little Kaiju is feisty so I ended waiting until she fell asleep before applying them. Be sure to fold over the aluminum packet so they retain freshness.
(小さめマスク | chiisame masuku)
I had no idea that they even made masks for babies and tots! Anpanman and Hello Kitty are the popular types while generic but kawaii ones are also sold in Japanese drugstores. Practice wearing masks together at home to get your child accustomed to wearing them in public.
(手指消毒液 | shushi shoudoku)
I’m a huge fan of the Bath & Body Works scented hand sanitizer series, so I always make sure to stock up when I go back to the States. When it comes to Japanese products, I use the giant mist type in the entrance and kitchen at home, and use the gel type in the classroom.
Anyone in your home get the flu this winter? How do you stay clear of germs and other nasties?