MARION COUNTY, Ind.– Cases of the flu are on the rise inside schools, targeting the youngest Hoosiers.
“We are seeing the highest peak for flu visits earlier than we ever have in ten years,” said Melissa McMasters, administrator for the Marion County Public Health Department
With cases on the rise, experts are worried of a possible ‘tri-demic’ of flu, COVID and RSV.
“We don’t know is this the peak?” asked McMasters. “Or are we going to see more and more cases through January, February and March, which is our peak season.”
Some schools are re-enforcing safety protocols similar to what we saw during the peak of covid.
“We recommend deep surface cleaning and reminder that hand washing is key,” McMasters said. “I know people are tired of hearing that, but it works. Also, encouraging kiddos that are sick to stay home.”
Several schools in Marion County and around the state are reporting an uptick in flu cases.
“There’s a law in Indiana when schools hit a 20 percent absenteeism, they have to report it to the Department of Education and also call the local health department,” McMasters said.
Local health departments are assisting schools with creating additional safety protocols.
“Once there’s a reported class, we go into a room and spray with a Clorox 360 machine,” said Mitzi Garman, Director of Communications for Beech Grove City Schools. “Daily, the desks are wiped with VIREX.”
Beech Grove City Schools have reported close to 40 flu cases so far this year.
“The biggest numbers are at our Pre-K through 1 building,” said Garman.
They’re encouraging parents to talk to their kids about proper hand washing techniques, not touching their mouth or face and staying home if they’re experiencing flu-like symptoms.
“Attendance matters, but we also don’t want a sick child or sick teacher, especially right before the holidays,” Garman said. “Stay home if you’re sick.”
The CDC warns the early spike in flu cases, along with Covid and RSV circulating, could make the perfect storm for the holidays.
“Christmas is still two weeks away,” McMasters said. “Plenty of time to get your vaccine and be protected by Christmas time.”
The CDC is still recommending that kids and adults get the flu vaccine if they have not done so already. Typically, the flu season peaks in February with cases being reported through May.