Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 26, 2013

Health clinic sees spike in flu vaccines

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — With flu season approaching, schools and local health officials are taking precautions to keep the fever, headaches and germs away.

"We've had an increase in people getting the vaccine in January," said Crystal Shutzbach, clinic coordinator for the Effingham County Health Department. "We usually see the most people taking care of it in November but people have been coming in. We've had several reports of people having been tested for influenza."

Local schools have certainly been affected by the flu as well. Altamont Superintendent Jeff Fritchnitch said the school has seen high numbers of students out with the flu over the last few weeks.

"The largest number of students are in the high school," he said. 'We had a day last week where 23 students were out. We had about 25 or 30 out of the grade school but they have more kids. We've had about 10 kids out every day."

Brownstown Superintendent Adam Bossard said while students have been out of school, he hasn't seen anything unusual for flu season.

"There's been an effect but it's not as dramatic as some might believe," he said. "There's peaks and valleys like every year."

Shutzbach said there are some basic things to know to avoid catching the flu this season.

"The flu shot only takes care of the upper respiratory flu, not the stomach flu," she said. "But the No. 1 thing is hand washing. Use the alcohol hand wash. Try to avoid big crowds and always use the wipes you see at grocery stores on the carts. Really, the big ones are getting plenty of rest and hand washing."

Fritchnitch said special precautions are taken every year at Altamont schools as flu season approaches.

"Every year around this time, when we get back from Christmas break, our custodians go into a different cleaning schedule," he said. "The teachers wipe down desks, they do door handles, they do lockers. It's a little bit of a burden on them but it keeps our kids in schools."

Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.