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Officials: Increased number of illness-related absences in local schools

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Hamilton County School officials say they are seeing an increased number of illness- related absences this week. 

"We have a mixture of flu and strep and norovirus," said Hamilton County School Nurse Coordinator Sheryl Fletcher.  "It hits hard and fast, usually it will wipe you out for sometimes 72 hours of severe vomiting and diarrhea. Children particularly can get dehydrated fairly quickly. The younger they are the faster they can dehydrate." 

Fletcher says schools on the north end of the county are seeing a variety of illnesses.

8 nurses called out sick last week with a few more out this week.

North Hamilton Elementary School reported 55 absences so far this week with 12 confirmed cases of the flu.

Teachers in neighboring Marion County reported 363 student absences last week, Wednesday 222 kids are at home sick.

"I did talk to our medical consultant at Children's Erlanger and he said they're seeing an increase in respiratory illness as well," said Fletcher. 

Health Officials say if you got the flu shot, that doesn't mean you're in the clear.

"What they are reporting is that the kids who are out with the diagnosis of flu have been vaccinated," said Fletcher. 

"This is a scary thought for us because that would mean that either the strain is different or the vaccine didn't cover it," said Dr. Shahla Kaukab, Soddy Daisy Pediatrics. "None of the vaccines are 100% protection against all the germs." 

Doctor Kaukab says fewer patients came in to get the shot this year. She thinks more parents chose to opt out because the flu mist was not an option this year. 

 "You know once it starts rolling you can't really stop it," said Fletcher " Once you get a virus, it just has to run its course so our thing is to prevent." 

School officials ask parents to keep sick children at home. They also encourage washing your hands your hands and covering your cough. Doctors still suggest getting the flu vaccine. They say it's never too late in the season. 

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