Church keeping flu out of the pews - Metro US

Church keeping flu out of the pews

The craze over H1N1 has sparked a wide range of reactions. Hand sanitizers are flying off the shelves. The MBTA has posted 900 ads throughout the system urging riders to take preventative measures, and the Boston Archdiocese even directed parishes this weekend to stop offering shared wine at Communion and ask parishioners to bow rather than handshake for the sign of peace.

Yesterday, most parishioners outside Holy Name Cathedral in the South End were perfectly fine with the directive.

“I think it makes sense because it’s a health issue,” said 68-year-old Joseph Finn, whose grandmother died during the influenza pandemic of 1918. “The purpose of [the church] is to build community. If [shaking hands] is going to be harmful to the community then stop doing it.”

The measures will remain in effect until the cold and flu season ends, according to the Archdiocese.

Elsewhere, area residents are taking notice. Children’s Hospital Boston’s emergency department saw a 10 to 20 percent bump in patients last week compared to that period last year. One state employee told Metro she now wears gloves most of the workday while handling incoming paperwork. Jon Sparks, a 27-year-old airline pilot living in Boston, said he has definitely noticed more travelers taking precautions.

“I see a lot of masks in airports, people washing their hands and using Purell,” Sparks said.

Others, such as 25-year-old Tom Rosborough of Norton, are taking a less dramatic approach.

“I’m drinking more OJ,” he shrugged.

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