Getting Answers: flu cases appearing later than usual

We’re getting answers after some parents told us they’re seeing a surprising amount of flu going around their children’s schools.
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 7:25 PM EDT
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EAST LONGMEADOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - We’re getting answers after some parents told us they’re seeing a surprising amount of flu going around their children’s schools.

“If we’re seeing a couple of cases in the office, there’s probably more out there that’s not coming into the office,” said Dr. John Kelley with Redwood Pediatrics.

Kelley said his office is seeing an uptick of flu cases as the month of April begins. He told Western Mass News that is a little bit later than the norm.

“It’s a little unusual to see it in April, but it can happen. Usually, our flu season around here ends by March,” Kelley noted.

While Kelley said he does not have data to base it on, he said there could be a chance the increase is tied to the lifting of mask mandates in schools.

“If everyone is wearing a mask, especially in school when kids are together, we’re going to see less respiratory illness mixed up amongst the children because they’re wearing a mask…The first winter of the pandemic, 2021, we saw very little, if any, influenza. That just goes to show you that if we all wore masks every winter, we probably wouldn’t have a lot of flu transmitted amongst children,” Kelley explained.

As for the pandemic, Kelley says things may be quieter now, but COVID-19 is still out there.

“We’re in a lull between outbreaks. We’ll see what happens. There’s another variant that’s out there that’s related to omicron that other countries are seeing a big uptick,” Kelley noted.

Kelley said while it’s too late for children to get their flu shots for the season, they can still get their COVID-19 vaccine.

“I do recommend to anyone, please, five and older to please consider getting your COVID vaccine. That’s still something people should be doing if they’re not vaccinated,” Kelley added.

For anyone over the age of 12 who is vaccinated, Kelley recommended getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot too.

Kelley also said his office is also seeing cases of stomach viruses, but that can typically happen year-round. He said what makes it worse is that it happens in waves because it can be easily spread by students.