WHACK the Flu is a community education plan designed to teach K-3 school children about improved hand hygiene habits in anticipation of the flu season. University volunteers are recruited and trained to conduct 15-minute classroom skit presentations, each of which requires three volunteers to perform. Incentives are distributed (i.e., stickers, activity sheets) to the children and posters/evaluation forms to the teachers. The skit directions are clear, and a song included in the skits is catchy and age-appropriate. Presentations are usually conducted in the fall, beginning in October. The WHACK acronym is used for its appeal to children and stands for:
W: Wash you hands often;
H: Home is where you stay when you are sick;
A: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
C: Cover your coughs and sneezes; and
K: Keep your distance from people who are coughing or sneezing.
Since children are considered by many to be a critical “lynchpin” in the tranmission of seasonal influenza, an intervention focused on them may reduce general sickness in the schools and community and serve as a potential source of mitigation in the event of a flu pandemic. WHACK the Flu is noteworthy both for its use of University volunteers and for its direct outreach to children – an important population for disease mitigation. This is also conceivably training that the schools could offer directly to parent groups.