Flu closes several Middle Tennessee schools
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - As the flu continues to spread, it has left some school districts in Middle Tennessee closed.
Coffee County and Perry County schools were closed on Monday because of flu cases. Cannon County schools were closed three days last week for the same reason.
Hickman county schools will be closed Tuesday because of flu cases.
Southeastern and South-Central states have the most flu cases, according to the CDC. So far 730 people have died from the flu this year, including two children.
Health officials say hospitals have not been this inundated with flu patients since the swine flu outbreak in 2009. Now, doctors are urging everyone to get their flu shots ahead of the holiday season.
“If you get it now, two weeks will be just before thanksgiving. A lot of people will be traveling and getting together with family. Obviously, that is a chance to get exposed unexpectedly. We’ve seen rises during those same types of events in the past with COVID,” said Dr. Gill Wright, director of the Metro Nashville Public Health Department.
Jeanne Pierce, a parent with a high school student in Coffee County said parents and students were told last week there’d be no school on Monday.
“Here we go again. It’s flu season. It happens every year and hopefully; each year we hope it’s going to be less and less,” Pierce said.
Coffee County school officials said The decision to close was made due to a recent increase in flu cases among staff and students.
Pierce said this isn’t the first school year the school district has closed because of the flu.
“This is very concerning. The dominant strain that’s been circulating is the H3N2 strain. And that’s the strain that’s been known to be particularly severe in young children and in the elderly,” said Dr. James Antoon, a pediatric hospitalist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
“Kids are still going to school if they don’t feel good. If they have a little sniffle or they think it’s a cold or they think it’s allergies. They don’t know it’s the flu until they run a fever,” said Pierce.
Dr. Antoon said fewer people are getting the flu shot this year and that shot is the best protection for kids and those around them
“We also know that this is going to get worse before it gets better so vaccination is important,” Dr. Antoon said.
Coffee county school officials hope the past weekend plus Monday’s school closure and “in-service” day on Tuesday would quote
“It interrupts the cycle of viral infection and allows us to resume our normal activities,” Dr. Antoon said
“I tell my daughter to try to stay away from people if they’re sick, wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Try to stay out of big groups of people but it’s hard when they’re walking down the halls together. Close contact,” Pierce said.
Dr. Antoon reminds parents there is an anti-viral treatment for the flu
“Any child who had less than 2-days of symptoms is eligible to get a medication called Tamiflu or that’s been known to help limit the duration of symptoms for the flu and help you get back to school faster,” Dr. Antoon said.
Antoon said any child or any person who is at high risk for flu complications, those children are eligible to get Tamiflu regardless of how long they’ve had their symptoms and that includes children less than 5 years old.
“Tamiflu can also be used as a Prophylaxis so a child who is high risk and has been exposed to the flu with close contact, you can use Tamiflu to help prevent infection in that child,” Dr. Antoon said
Students in Coffee county schools are expected to return to the classroom on Wednesday.
Doctors are saying it’s especially important to get your flu shot this year because the virus has mutated a lot.
Wednesday, November 9, you can get free flu shots at the Lentz Public Health Center and four other locations in Nashville. This is part of a statewide vaccination event called “Fight Flu TN” with vaccine events being held in every Tennessee county.
Here’s a list of those places participating in “Fight Flu TN” and giving out free flu shots on November 9:
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