Flu Shuts Down Idaho Town

Flu Shuts Down Idaho Town

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Sandra Yi ReportingThe French word "Malad" means "sick" and tonight sickness has all but shut down the town of Malad, Idaho. Flu and the fear it will only get worse has prompted town leaders there to shut down schools and churches for a few days.

The flu bug is biting hard this year, keeping emergency rooms busy. The outbreak was serious enough in one Southeast Idaho town that leaders there decided to take extreme measures. A malady in Malad, Idaho has shut down schools and churches. It's doctor's orders.

Dr. Stephen Johnson, Malad Valley Clinic: "We've had a lot of really sick kids, not only in the office but in the emergency room."

So school is out for the town's students. Church services and activities have also been canceled until early next week. The idea is to avoid large gatherings and keep the flu from spreading.

Michael Hess, Malad L.D.S. Stake President: "Within the town and the people where they're not gathering in groups, it's pretty much business as usual. You know, actually what it's done, it's actually offered a lot of them an extra chance to get out and do some Christmas shopping."

Health officials in Utah aren't taking such drastic measures, but they say the flu has hit harder this year. To date the health department has received reports of more than a thousand influenza cases. Already, reports of patients with influenza like illnesses have more than doubled since last season's peak.

Also, several school districts say they've had above average absences. Some districts also say more parents are taking their kids out of class to get a flu shot.

As for vaccine, there's word of a nationwide shortage as more people are rushing to get shots, fearing a bad flu season. In fact, two US flu shot makers said today they've run out of vaccine and will not be able to meet a surge in demand.

In Utah, the supply is dwindling and there may be local shortages.

Susan Mottice, Utah Dept. of Health: "We know of places where vaccine is available but we've heard of places where it's not."

Health officials say it's never too late to get to get a flu shot. And they say it's most important for kids, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases.

Susan Mottice, Utah Dept. of Health: "It's important that they try to find vaccine. And you may have to call several places, but we know there is vaccine still available."

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