Flu numbers skyrocket, school abcenses increase

YAKIMA, Wash.-- More people are sick with the flu; especially kids. The virus has struck hard across the nation and here in Yakima. It's putting family life on hold.

"My son ended up sick and we ended up sleeping in the bathroom because he was so ill," Stephanie Sali, a Yakima mom, said.

It appears the virus has struck every elementary school in the Yakima School District. There's been a spike in student absences because of the flu. Most absences are from sending kids home early because they fell sick. Parents know the schools are trying hard to prevent the contagious illness from hitting more.

"They're taking extra precautions, using more hand sanitizer, washing their hands, keeping areas clean, using Lysol, and other disinfectants," Sali said.

I learned more than 50 kids were out in a single day at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary. 68 were absent at McKinley. Compare that to only half a dozen they see in a typical day.

"We just take a few more precautions, especially at this time of year with everyone getting so sick," she said.

Last week more than 40% of reported flu tests in Yakima County came back positive. During the same time period last year, only 10% were positive for the flu.

Yakima Public Health says that urgency for children to get vaccinated is double that right now of adults. Because kids are so young, this is often their first encounter with the virus and it can be deadly. Adults have built up their immune system to fight the virus off more quickly. Doctors hope you'll take the flu threat seriously, get vaccinated, and stay home if you're sick.