The flu has reached epidemic proportions and according to a report out of NBC News Channel 4 New York last night, January 11, the CDC is calculating the flu outbreak has reached 47 of the 50 states in the country, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, causing some procedural changes in the Catholic Mass. Today, January 12, Governor Cuomo has declared a flu emergency in New York State.
Reports have calculated that the current flu vaccine is only 62% effective, which has prompted the Archdiocese of Boston to change a few of the ways Catholics will be celebrating Mass until the epidemic is contained.
Catholic leaders in the state of Massachusetts are asking parishioners to bow instead of shaking hands when offering “peace” to one another and are suspending Communion wine service to those Masses where the “Precious Blood” is offered.
There is currently no official word for Long Island Catholics from the Diocese of Rockville Centre regarding implementing the same safety procedures to protect against spreading the flu, however common sense should prevail.
While drinking the “Precious Blood” has always been encouraged, it is optional when receiving Communion, the exception being First Holy Communion where it is mandatory for all children receiving the sacrament for the first time to eat the host and drink the wine.
Offering “peace” to one another via head bow and saying the words, "peace be with you" should be acceptable, considering the flu epidemic and concern of transmission, without offending those seated nearby. If a fellow parishioner insists on shaking hands, keep the hands away from the face, immediately wash as soon as possible and cough into the curve of the arm.
If the Diocese of Rockville Centre replicates the actions of the Archdiocese of Boston to protect parishioners from transmitting the flu, it will be reported here to inform those Catholics of Long Island who attend mass regularly.
Source: NBC News Channel 4 New York
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