Flu and respiratory illnesses cause high absentee rates at schools and daycares

Sky-high daycare absences are the new reality for centres feeling the flu’s impact.

Absence rates at the RRC Early Childhood Centre were as high as 53 per cent this week. The centre said parents have been very diligent keeping sick kids home. Earl Grey Children’s centre was half that, with 25 per cent of its children absent.

Stanley Knowles Children’s Centre Inc, saw an average of 37 per cent of its children being absent, but on Friday, 41 per cent were absent and two of its 11 staff members were off sick.

“I feel like we’re scrambling a little bit because we do have a number of different groups. So we are making sure that we’re you know maintaining our ratios maintaining staffing for those groups,” said Executive Director Lisa Hrechkosy. “I think everybody is trying to do their best and if a child is unwell they’ll keep their child at home.”

In the classroom – St. James Assiniboia School Division said in an email to CTV News it has “seen a recent increase in general illness-related absences” and “educators are continuing to manage the situation.”

River East Transcona School Division says it’s also seeing rates higher that are than normal. Meanwhile, Seven Oaks School Division’s November absences are 13.3 per cent, up from 9.8 per cent in 2021 and 11.6 in 2020.

Respiratory illnesses such as the flu and RSV has added to the stress on hospitals. They are seeing high patient levels, but Shared Health says they are no longer at unprecedented highs.

Hospitals saw 152 patients visiting the emergency department Thursday – lower than the average of 172.4 per day this month.

The province says children younger than five made up a fifth of all the hospital flu admissions.

More children’s Tylenol is set to hit shelves after a recent Health Canada announcement.

Tim Smith -the pharmacy practice advisor with Pharmacists Manitoba – says the medications are snapped up just as quickly as they hit the shelves. The lack of children’s versions is leading parents and pharmacists to turn to altered adult doses.

“We don’t want to make any mistakes and pharmacists are always here to help,” Smith said.

Flu shots are also being recommended by pharmacists. The province says as of Wednesday – 15 per cent of people have received their flu shots.

Smith thinks that uptick number could be higher if they had the staff to meet demand.

“Demand seems to also be higher than in previous years. The phone is often ringing off the hook. And pharmacists, like many other health professionals in our province right now, are strapped for resources right now and staffing capacity. And they are struggling to keep up with demand.”

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