State Concerned Because of an Early Influenza Outbreak

Doctor Paul Effler
Doctor Paul Effler

(KHNL) Honolulu - Circulating around Hawaii's school are vaccination consent forms. Which would give the state a shot in the arm to reduce the number of flu cases for children. Numbers that have already started to go up this flu season.

Schools are more than just a great place for learning.

They are also a great place to pass along germs, including the flu.

"Children are good source of influenza transmission." says State Epidemiologist, Dr. Paul Effler.

At one unnamed private school, two students just tested positive for a severe strain of influenza. A sibling of one of the students also got the flu. And other children may have been infected as well.

"These children were very sick, one had fever of 105 degrees, they spent more than a week out of school and in rare cases it can require hospitalization." says Effler.

Hawaii's flu season normally hits hardest during the winter months, but this early cluster outbreak could be a sign of things to come.

"Its concerning because it may herald that we're going to have a heavy flu season." adds Effler.

But this year, the state is fighting back with a free vaccination program for all elementary and middle school students. A vaccination, the state says, is needed because unlike illnesses like measles or pertussis where the germ is stable, the flu infection changes every year.

The flu shots begin next month.

But consent forms for students have to be returned by friday, September 7th. Students will be able to get either the shot or a nasal spray with the vaccine.