LINCOLN, Neb. – Nationwide, reported cases of the flu are on the rise. Just last week, in a matter of a few days, the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department reported 100 cases.
“The flu is here, and it will continue to increase through probably January,” said Tim Timmons with the Heatlh Department.
Timmons said the peak of flu season is unpredictable, but the holiday season is always a time of more cases.
“People are traveling,” Timmons said. “They’re taking their flu to a new location, or they’re going somewhere and bringing back the flu from another location. And it just spreads from there.”
The Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department said the hardest hit group this year is children, specifically ages 6 to 12. Local daycare centers say they’ve seen the impact firsthand.
“It’s kind of just this time of year, but I have seen it a lot. been lingering more, and that’s how it’s kind of been worse and affecting us,” said Blake Shepherd, a teacher at Young Voices Childhood Development Center.
Lincoln Public Schools posts the number of children out sick every week. Last Wednesday it was 3% district-wide, but schools like Roussea Elementary and Scott Middle School were both at 7%, and Moore Middle School was all the way at 12%.
These kids are about to be out of school on winter break, and many will spend some of their holiday at daycare centers. These centers are already trying to prepare.
“”I definitely think they’ll bring in some illness, but we do have a separate room for school-agers,” Shepherd said. “And we make sure everyone is washing their hands frequently and we sanitize toys every night.”
Many childcare facilities also have a 48 hour rule, where a child cannot return to the daycare until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours.
The Health Department says the best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot, and if you haven’t gotten one, it isn’t too late.
“Any time during the flu season is a good time to get the shot,” Timmons said. “We want you to get it early, but you haven’t missed the deadline.”
Timmons said the shot does take up to two weeks to be fully effective, but if you plan to travel for the holidays, you should still get a shot beforehand because it will still provide some protection against the virus.