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SANDY — It’s that time of year when many Utah kids are getting sick and one Utah school has been hit especially hard by the flu.
Canyons School District officials said attendance is down by nearly 25% at Sandy’s Lone Peak Elementary School, meaning almost one in four students is home from school — possibly with the flu.
Officials with the Utah County Health Department said Influenza B, which is one of the strains covered by the influenza vaccine, is to blame.
“I will say though, by getting the vaccine it can reduce the severity of your illness. So yes, it’s not 100%. Many people do the vaccine and still get the flu, but you may have a less severe manifestation of the illness by getting the vaccine,” said Melanie Spencer with the Utah County Health Department.
Even with the higher than normal absentee rate, officials said the school is running as usual.
“We disinfect our schools on a nightly basis, and that’s done by paying special attention to highly trafficked areas or touchpoints like drinking fountains and computer keyboards,” said Kirsten Stewart, Canyons School District spokesperson.
Because of the increased illnesses, officials said they are taking extra precautions.
“Bringing in special equipment, such as electrostatic sprayers,” Stewart said. “We can clean whole areas using these electrostatic sprayers, and kind of spray a fog of disinfectant over an area.”
However, they said it’s not necessary to keep kids home as a preventative measure.
The flu, from what I'm seeing, is not slowing down. It's never too late to get a flu shot.
–Melanie Spencer , Utah County Health Department
“Right now, we’re not abnormally high,” Spencer said. “There’s nothing that we’re seeing that looks novel or strange. So if you’re healthy, feel free to go about your normal activities.”
Officials said kids should practice good hand-washing hygiene, avoid touching your eyes nose and mouth and stay home for at least 24 hours if they have a fever.
And health experts said getting a flu shot is still the first line of defense.
“The flu, from what I’m seeing, is not slowing down. It’s never too late to get a flu shot. We still might be in this for a couple more months,” Spencer said.