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The flu bug recently bit local schools hard.
With flu activity upgraded from regional to widespread across Kentucky, absences and students leaving early due to illness has not been uncommon.
“It’s definitely amongst us,” said Williamstown Elementary Principal David Poer, who serves as director of pupil personnel for Williamstown Independent Schools.
Williamstown’s district-wide attendance for Oct. 5 through Oct. 7, three days before fall break, was 93 percent.
However, the attendance for the four days after fall break — Oct. 12 through Oct. 15 — dropped to 88.5 percent
Poer and Williamstown Jr./Sr. High Principal Misty Buchannan decided to call off a planned field trip for third and eighth graders on Oct. 16 because of the cold, damp weather and widespread illness.
“The last two days of the week it stabilized a little bit,” Poer said. “I think we’re feeling the brunt of it right now and hopefully it will just keep on heading another direction. We’ll be able to get through it.”
The opposite wave seemed to hit Grant County Schools.
Attendance for the three days before fall break went from 88.65 on Oct. 5 to 87 percent on Oct. 7.
However, the attendance rose to the low 90s the first three days back from the break with it hitting nearly 93 percent Oct. 14.
“A lot of people are getting hit with the mid- to upper-80 percent range for attendance,” said Al Poweleit, director of pupil personnel for Grant County Schools. “We were out for five days and our attendance has popped back up. The break helped. I know some other schools have been hit hard.”
“I am worried that know all of a sudden we’re back in those close quarters again,” he said.
“If you get somebody who gets sick, then we could have a rebound effect from it. It’s just one of those things you have to deal with. The way they are talking about it, it may be one of those things where we survived one wave and now here comes another wave,” Poweleit said.
A seasonal flu vaccine clinic conducted Oct. 14 by the Northern Kentucky Health Department at the Grant County Library was “busy,” said Emily Gresham Wherle, public information manager for the health department.
“We gave approximately 100 shots in around two hours,” she said. “There is definitely a higher demand for seasonal flu vaccine, particularly for children.”
The health department is almost entirely out of the vaccine and does not plan to have any additional clinics or order additional doses at this time.
However, local pharmacies may still have some supply.
Those hoping to receive a swine flu vaccination will have to wait awhile longer.
By Oct. 23, the health department is expected to have enough doses to cover only 3.5 percent of the population of northern Kentucky, Wherle said.
“Because of those small numbers, the swine flu vaccine is not being offered to the general public yet from the health department,” she said. “We hope to have enough vaccine in a few weeks to offer it and plan to have at least one vaccination event in Grant County when we do.”
Wherle said some medical providers have received doses of swine flu vaccine in their offices, but the initial shipments for providers are going mainly to pediatricians and OB/gyn offices because they serve high risk groups.
Health care workers and emergency medical workers are also being targeted for vaccination.
“We know that there are many more people who want the vaccine and are unable to get it,” Wherle said. “We ask that residents be patient as we wait for the additional supplies to arrive. In the meantime, they should keep up those good hygiene habits, such as washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and staying home if you are sick.”