Flu season hits amid pandemic

Flu shots strongly recommended this year


Gracie Moore

Flu shots are being recommended even more this year during the pandemic.

By Ella Trendel, Staff Writer

With flu season underway, the importance of getting a flu shot has never been greater.

Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and USD 497 fear that large numbers of COVID-19 cases mixed with the flu season may put a big strain on hospitals as well as resources used to combat coronavirus.

For now, the school district, hospitals and health care providers can only make predictions about the resources they will need.

“The main concern is that large numbers of flu and COVID-19 cases occurring simultaneously will overwhelm the hospital system,” Jackie Chase, a Lawrence County Health Department nurse, said.

Chase explains that the best way to prevent this risk is for people to get their flu shots. “It’s going to reduce the demands on our hospital and healthcare systems,” Chase said.

Sophomore Zoe Counts received her flu shot in late September.

“I definitely felt more obligated to get a flu shot because of COVID-19. I think that it’s a good way to keep others safe,”  Counts said. “The only bad part of a flu shot is how sore your arm can get, but that’s a small price to pay to keep others safe.”

Another way to keep these overwhelming conditions at bay is to get tested if you believe you are showing coronavirus symptoms.

“There is now a multiplex test that can test for coronavirus, influenza A and B,” district health facilitator Sonja Gumar said.  “Hopefully, with this one test, the labs can stay up-to-date with their response.”

The USD 497 school district is continuing to take precautions to keep students and staff safe.

“The school district is requiring all students and staff to wear a face covering, maintain social distancing of six feet apart and wash hands or use hand sanitizer frequently,” Gumar said in an interview before students had returned to school. “When students return to school, hand-washing will be required every hour. Temperatures will be taken when students or staff arrive at the building. If a temperature is 100.0 or higher, then that person will not be allowed to enter the building. We will also be asking parents to do a daily COVID assessment on their children before sending them to school.”

Students may be out of school longer if they are exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

“Generally during the school year, students are sent home if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as a fever, headache, body aches, fatigue, sore throat or cough and are to stay out of school until no longer having symptoms,” LHS nurse Carol Casteel said. “They will now need to be out of school for at least 10 days as well as be fever free without using fever-reducing medication and not be waiting for COVID-19 test results.”

In addition to continuing safety procedures, the school has implemented an isolation room.

“This will be an area for students to wait until they are picked up by their parent or guardian,”  Casteel said. “It will have its own air filtration system to avoid more possible infection. We don’t want ill students to wait in the health office around other students if they are coughing and have a fever.”


Gracie Moore