Churches Implement Flu-Fighting Measures - FOX 42: Omaha News, Sports and Weather; |

Churches Implement Flu-Fighting Measures

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Meghan Youker

OMAHA (KPTM) - Flu season has more metro-area churches taking steps to protect their congregations.  At some masses, leaders are now advising against some pretty common practices.

On the campus of Creighton University, the faithful flock to a service steeped in tradition.  "We're expecting to get the increase in the flu after the break when the kids come back," said Sr. Donna Marie McGargill, liturgical coordinator at St. John's Parish.

Monday marks the end of students' fall break and with it, leaders at St. John's Parish pass out fliers detailing new measures to stave off the flu.  "It's still the same general idea, it's just not the actual physical touching," said Creighton sophomore Ben McCann.

He's talking about a wave or another kind of gesture for parishioners used to shaking hands during the greeting of peace.  There's also no more holding hands during the Lord's Prayer.  "It's something that has always been a part of the mass for me, but I mean small things like that can actually help," McCann said.

The church is also pulling out the hand sanitizer and asking people not to take communion on the tongue.

While wine will still be offered in a common cup, leaders remind churchgoers it's okay to pass and urge caution and common sense.  "If you're sick, stay home, like everybody else tells you to do.  A lot of us don't do that, but we really advise people to be more sensitive to the flu this year than normal," Sr. Donna said.

It's a move many hope will keep people healthy this flu season.  "H1N1 is a risk right now.  I mean it's spreading all over the U.S. so I think these are just necessary precautions in order to make sure it doesn't spread," said Creighton senior Jon Bannwarth.

H1N1 has had leaders at St. John's on alert since last spring, but leaders say after months of discussions with nurses and folks at other universities they decided to roll the changes out this week and next.

The policies may get stricter if a lot more people in the community get sick.  The church expects to keep the measures in place until next spring.

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