Flu Outbreak Causes Oklahoma School District to Cancel Classes

Doctors are struggling to meet flu shot demands.

ByABC News
January 11, 2013, 4:00 AM

Jan. 11, 2013— -- The flu outbreak that is sweeping the nation has caused one school district in Oklahoma to cancel classes as 25 percent of the student body is ill with the flu.

On Thursday, the Kiefer public school district announced they would cancel today's classes to give students the weekend to rest as nearly 150 of the 650 student-body are suffering from the flu.

Kiefer, located 30 minutes south of Tulsa, will use today's day off to clean all of the water fountains, lockers, desks and chairs in the school district, according to ABC News affiliate KTUL.

"Hopefully I don't get it," Amber Ham, mother of a Kiefer student, told KTUL. "That's what I am worried about, spending all weekend sick."

Eight people have died in Oklahoma since Sept. 30, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health. The state's health department says that 92 new patients were admitted to hospitals between Jan. 2 to Jan. 8.

The fight against the flu has quickly become an uphill battle for doctors across the U.S. Doctors and hospitals are running low on flu shots as they cannot keep up with the demand. More than 128 million vaccine doses have been distributed nationwide, according to the Associated Press.

"This is a true national shortage," Randy Tartacoff, a doctor at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, N.J., told ABC News.

"Today, we could be getting 30 doses in and that could be sufficient, but that can be gone in 30 minutes," Cheryl Fattibene, a nurse at CVS Minutes Clinic in Bryn Mawr, Pa., said.

Pharmacists are also struggling to fill prescription orders.

"Right now we're getting 24 boxes of Tamiflu, but we're getting 40 or 50 prescriptions," said Andy Komuves, a pharmacist in Dallas.

But those lucky enough to have received a flu shot are not immune to the outbreak.

Michael Mayle got a flu and pneumonia shot, but both precautions didn't stop him from making a trip to a Cleveland clinic.

"I never had to strain that hard to breathe before. I was pretty close to death," he said.

Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston were forced to go on Amber Alert Thursday, forcing an all hands on deck situation as flu patients flooded the emergency room.

"…People who are going off shift will not be allowed to go home until after we've completely evaluated what we need," Dr. Ron Wells said.

Wells said he has never seen an outbreak as severe as this during his 19-year career.

"I would say over the last week to 10 days, it's been pretty consistently crazy, dramatically worse than what we've seen in prior years," he said.

On Wednesday, Boston declared a public health emergency, with the city's hospitals counting about 1,500 emergency room visits since December by people with flu-like symptoms. The flu is being blamed for at least 18 deaths in Massachusetts.

ABC News Radio contributed to this report.