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Increase in Influenza Impacts School Kids

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One school district after the other is noticing significant drops in attendance.

Lovelady school district went as far as canceling classes at the end of last week, nearly 30% of the district's students were absent.

The problem is the same in Brenham. The district didn't cancel classes, but school administrators said attendance is down nearly 15%.

"As the week progressed, the attendance stayed about the same fluctuating from about 86 to about 88%," said Brenham High School Principal, John Dalchau.

Some schools have taken precautionary measures like placing hand-wipes in classrooms and disinfecting computers.

"We're getting into the TAKS testing season so we want to have students here so we can prepare them for the state mandated test, so anything we can do to get our students here we will do," said Dalchau.

In Bryan, school officials sent out a letter Wednesday to parents warning them of the increase in influenza and listing typical symptoms to watch out for.

Brazos County Health Authority, Dr. Charles Williams said the spike in influenza cases is a concern considering the flu vaccine shortage.

"we know that there are fewer people out there that are actually immunized that would normally be immunized without the shortage. The concern is is that this is going to lead us to see more and more people who are presented with influenza this year," said Williams.

Since October, the flu shot has been limited to high risk patients. However, the Centers for Disease Control is now allowing the general public to receive the vaccine. Williams said it's not to late to get one, but hurry because the supply is still somewhat limited.

The following are steps to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu:

Cover your nose and mouth.
Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Stay away as much as you can from people who are sick.
If you get the flu, stay home from work or school.
Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.