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Photo courtesy of NYC Emergency Management Department
Photo courtesy of NYC Emergency Management Department
Ready Girl demonstrates how to properly cover a sneeze at P.S. 88Q in Ridgewood on Feb. 27.

When a crisis spreads as quickly as the flu does, sometimes a superhero must be called into action.

The New York City Emergency Management Department (NYCEM) brought its superhero, Ready Girl, to P.S. 88Q in Ridgewood on Feb. 27 to teach fourth- and fifth-grade students about the steps they can take to prevent the flu. Ready Girl was joined by Dr. Jane Zucker, assistant commissioner for the Bureau of Immunization for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and they explained the symptoms of the virus and easy ways to prevent the spread of germs.

“Every season, we lose far too many children to this devastating illness — an illness that can be easily prevented and mitigated by getting the flu shot,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett in a press release. “I thank our partners at NYCEM for providing our children with essential information that can potentially save their lives and prevent the spread of illness. It’s not too late to get the flu shot, and we can all be superheroes by taking steps to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy.”

The Health Department has confirmed that four children have died from the flu this season. Since 2004, between zero and eight flu-related deaths have been reported to the Health Department each year.

Ready Girl and Dr. Zucker also reminded the students that there is still time to get a flu shot because it can still provide immunity and mitigate the symptoms and complications throughout the flu season. Those who are most at risk of being hospitalized from the flu virus are children under the age of 5, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart or lung disease and people over the age of 65.

Part of the Ready New York for Kids — a joint initiative between NYCEM and the Department of Education — Ready Girl has visited hundreds of schools since 2015 to teach kids about emergency preparedness.

“It is important to equip our students with the information to protect themselves against the flu,” said NYCEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “Ready Girl is up to the task of teaching our kids the importance of preparedness.”

Here are some important influenza prevention tips that Ready Girl shared:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after use.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • If you or your child is sick with influenza, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them or others and seek care. There are antiviral drugs that a health care worker can prescribe to treat influenza, reducing the time that you are ill and preventing some of the more serious complications of this infection.
  • If your child is at a high risk for influenza complications, you should speak to your medical provider about antiviral medication if they develop influenza-like symptoms.
  • If a child has a condition like asthma, call a doctor if they show influenza-like symptoms.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or other necessities. Students should not return to school until they have been fever free without taking temperature-reducing medications for 24 hours.

The flu vaccine remains readily available; to find a vaccine, New Yorkers can call 311, visit for the Flu Vaccine Locator or text “flu” to 877877.


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