Decatur County Schools see early flu cases

Published 11:46 pm Friday, October 18, 2013

School nurses and local medical workers said they have not exactly seen an uptick in the number of influenza cases this year, however the flu season has come earlier than expected, and the winter months could get even worse.
Dr. Winston Price, chairman of the pediatrics department at Memorial Hospital and Manor said he estimates four to five people each day are in the waiting room for the flu — 25 patients per week.
“This week we had a 10-year-old child and the mother said he was very depressed, crying and not eating,” Price said. “The child had a sibling with the flu and so we suspected this child had it as well. We are seeing a fair amount of these cases — I would say close to 100 kids each month from late August and September until now.”
While the amount of cases seem heavy, Price said the numbers are just in line with how many were seen last year in the area as tracked by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. Its just the fact that the season has come early that doctors are urging patients to get their flu shots now — to prepare for the winter months ahead.
“I think we will have a more difficult time in the winter months so we are trying to get parents to be proactive and get their kids the flu vaccine as early as possible,” Price said, who said each year he sees those parents who quote to him the myths and misconceptions about the vaccination for influenza. But Price said the vaccination is not only for overall health but to prevent the amount of fatalities that influenza causes each year in children and in the elderly.
Christy Harrell works out of Hutto Middle School as the comprehensive school healthcare director and as a school nurse, has seen cases throughout this season that many are claiming to be worse than years past.
Harrell said this year isn’t any worse — but the cases came a lot earlier in August and September when they usually begin in October and November.
“This isn’t like an epidemic, but we have seen more than usual for this time of the year,” Harrell said.
Hutto Middle School had a flu clinic, she said, for the first time. Parents signed permission forms and students were vaccinated at school. Harrell said 129 students participated and she hopes it could be a yearly occurrence.
“We were just trying it out for the first time this year to see how it would run and it went really well,” Harrell said, and added the Decatur County Health Department partnered with the schools for the initiative.
“I think getting your kids vaccinated is always good for flu season because you just have a large group setting at school and you are coming into contact with a lot of germs. It’s a good way to keep you healthy and in school more,” Harrell said.

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