Flu closes Mekeel Christian Academy

A classroom sits empty at Mekeel Christian Academy in Scotia. A classroom sits empty at Mekeel Christian Academy in Scotia. | Photo: WNYT.

February 05, 2018 06:58 PM

SCOTIA - The Head of School at Mekeel Christian Academy, Chad Bowman, says he's never seen anything like it.

After 10 percent of the students and nearly 25 percent of the staff called in sick Monday, Bowman said he had little choice but to shut the school down for the day.

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"At Mekeel, we're always prioritizing safety number one," Bowman says, "and with the opportunity to take another day, come up with a contingency plan without faculty and take a day today, and bring professionals in to clean the building and disinfect, we thought that was a prudent decision for us to make."

Even though Mekeel Christian Academy was the only Capital Region school to close Monday due to illness, Scotia is far from the only community affected by the ongoing flu epidemic.

The State Department of Health confirms flu cases have increased 50 percent in one week, and hospitalizations have risen 21 percent over the same period.

"It's really hard to predict the reasons why a season gets as severe as it does," says Brad Hutton, Deputy Commissioner of Public Health at the New York State Department of Health. "One contributing factor are the types of strains that are circulating and one of the strains that is predominating this year is known as the H3N2 type of virus."

Hutton says the flu is something people need to take seriously, pointing out in extreme cases, the virus can be deadly.

"We're a little bit worried that the media coverage about the Australian Flu season and low vaccine effectiveness is deterring individuals from going out and getting the vaccine," he said. "The vaccine provides protection against three different types of flu and that protection is between 30 percent and 60 percent."

Hutton says based on what's happening in other parts of the country, the DOH is prepared for the possibility that there'll be another one to two weeks of increases.

More information:

Everyday ways you can help prevent flu


Dan Levy

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