Grand Rapids Diocese not changing communion practices for flu season

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Flu season is putting a halt to everything from school to winter activities, but the Grand Rapids Diocese says it won't change communion at their local parishes.

While they're aware of the risks during flu season, they say it's about tradition and are instead asking sick people to please stay home.

"Catholics are expected to come to mass every week, it's very ingrained into many of us," said Aaron Sanders, director of the office for worship at the Diocese.

Having the flu, however, is an extraordinary circumstance he says trumps that expectation.

"If people have the flu or a serious cold or expect that they do, we ask that they remember that they are in those extraordinary circumstances and stay home for their own good so they can heal up, but also for the sake of others," Sanders said.

Though some churches throughout the country are opting out of sharing the chalice during communion out of fear of spreading the virus, the Diocese says they are keeping up the tradition.

"Until we hit very severe marks in those areas, we trust in those studies by the CDC and others that tell us the common sense precautions we do take such as wiping the rim of the chalice after each person receives are in fact sufficient to really minimize the risk of infection through communion," Sanders said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also say that the flu spreads through saliva droplets, and though it's not as common, a person can still get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it.

Both the CDC and the Diocese say the main thing to remember: if you're sick, stay home.

"We really are just continuing the practice that we always use, but reminding people to take extra care of themselves and others as they receive communion," Sanders aid.

The Diocese has guidelines for flu season on its website.  

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