As the flu outbreak spreads across 48 states, some religious leaders are advising their flocks to take precautions, but others say avoiding infection is just a matter of common sense.
Several Catholic dioceses, including Manchester, N.H., Boston, and New York, are advising priests to consider not offering the shared chalice of consecrated wine at Holy Communion at Masses. Communicants would only receive the consecrated wafer.
In addition, Manchester Bishop Peter Libasci had other suggestions, reported The Eagle Tribune of North Andover, Mass.
“The faithful should be encouraged to share the Sign of Peace without touching hands or kissing,” he said. “This may be done with smiles and a bow of the head in reverence to one another.”
Unlike patients who have a choice about getting the flu shot, many health care workers didn’t have a say this year.
For the first time in Rhode Island, hospital and nursing home workers were told to roll up their sleeves, and hundreds of hospitals in other states have similar policies.
“No one likes to be coerced, and there were some people who objected,” says Virginia Burke, CEO of the Rhode Island Health Care Association, which provides skilled nurses and rehabilitation workers to the state’s nursing homes. “My fear when the mandate came out was we’d lose workforce. To my delight, that hasn’t happened.”
But more than 1,000 workers filed a petition to oppose the directive.