Public Health Nurse Rachel Lecher gives Nicole Hak the flu shot.

Public Health Nurse Rachel Lecher gives Nicole Hak the flu shot.

Not too late to get the flu shot

Colds, coughing, congestion and flu-type illness is going around town.

Colds, coughing, congestion and flu-type illness is going around town.

Sandi Lavallie, instructor at Houston’s Northwest Community College and CPP coordinator, says 50 per cent more of their students were absent during their first week of school because either they or their children had the flu.

Lavallie says she is surprised that they haven’t been told to report absences to the Houston Health Centre, because with last year’s flu outbreak they had to report every absence, and their absent rate this year is higher than last year.

Reports from elementary and high schools in Houston say there is no increase in the number of students absent because of the flu, but both Houston Christian School secretary Kim VanBarneveld and Silverthorne Elementary Principal Mark Fehr said that from what they heard, a lot of students were sick over the holidays.

Edna McLellan, public health nurse manager and clinical disease lead manager, said there are no lab-confirmed cases of influenza or the Norwalk virus in Houston.

“Just because things aren’t lab confirmed, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not in the community,” McLellan said, adding that it also doesn’t necessarily mean that it hasn’t been diagnosed in town on a clinical basis by local physicians.

McLellan says that during winter, and especially Christmas, people tend to go to more parties, have more close contact with other people and get more tired, all of which increases their risk of getting ill.

Flu vaccine is still available at the Houston Health Centre, McLellan said, adding that people should also remember to wash hands well and stay away from work or school when they are ill.