Weatherford teacher dies from flu effects

Heather Holland

A second grade teacher at Ikard Elementary School, 38-year-old Heather Holland, died Sunday due to complications of the flu. 

In addition to a classroom of second graders, Holland left behind husband Frank Holland, a 10-year-old daughter, and a 7-year-old son. 

Holland fell ill about a week ago and planned to pick up flu medication but felt the $116 copay was too high, her husband said. 

Frank Holland bought the prescription himself when he found out, but things worsened. 

“Friday night, things escalated and she ended up in the ICU,” Holland said. "The doctors got the blood cultures back and they had to put her on dialysis early Saturday.”  

Heather Holland died Sunday morning. 

“I have to be strong for the kids but it’s still surreal, it hasn’t all set in,” Holland said. “We’ve been together a long time, over half my life. She’s my best friend, my soulmate, my everything.” 

“It hasn’t set in with them yet either,” Holland said of his children.

Her husband described her as a passionate teacher. 

Holland had been with Weatherford ISD for four years and had nearly completed her master's degree. 

“She loved helping people, helping the kids, and the kids loved her," Holland said.

"We have been learning a lot," Heather Holland wrote on an Ikard Elementary website page.  "I am really enjoying my kiddos. We are working hard on reading, writing and learning to quickly compose and decompose numbers. 

Charlotte LaGrone, spokesperson for Weatherford ISD, said Monday was a difficult day at the Ikard campus. 

Counselors were on campus Monday and will be throughout the week to assist students, staff and parents.

The district has been taking measures to deal with the flu season.  

"Our campus custodians have been deep cleaning our schools since December and the campus where the teacher worked underwent another deep cleaning on Friday, Feb. 2," LaGrone said in a statement. 

 Flu outbreak

The Texas Department of State Health Services Friday reported that as of late January the number of people who were reported to have died of pneumonia or influenza in Texas since Oct. 1 was 2,897. 

The majority – 2,720 – were over the age of 50, according to the state. 

Typically those over 65 years old have the highest rate of hospitalization followed by children between the ages of 0-4 years but adults between the age of 50 and 64 have have a higher hospitalization rate this year, according to the Centers for District Control and Prevention. 

The U.S. is on track to have the worst flu outbreak in a decade, according to the CDC. 

This year's dominant strain of flu, H3N2, is known for more hospitalizations and complications. 

It's unclear when the flu season will begin to slow down, either. 

CDC recommends getting the flu vaccination for those over 6 months old because the virus is expected to continue circulating for weeks. 

One local school district was one of number of Texas districts who've close due to impact from the flu this year. 

Due to a high number of student and teacher absences, Perrin-Whitt CISD in northwest Parker County closed Monday to disinfect classrooms and buildings. 

 Free flu shots

The Parker County Hospital District Wednesday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 1130 Pecan Street in Weatherford, will be giving away flu shots as long as they last.

Kathleen Durham, marketing director for the hospital district, said they have about 500 to 600 flu shots left and, with the death of Holland, wanted to make those available to those who have not been vaccinated regardless of ability to pay. 

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Weatherford ISD," Durham said. "It's just so tragic."

Campbell Clinic has seen an increase in the number of appointments and people diagnosed through rapid flu testing over last year, according to Durham.

"We've given about 15,000 to 16,000 flu shots this year in the county," Durham said, adding that the demand for flu shots has increased since the holidays. 

Fewer Parker County students were vaccinated for the flu by the Parker County Hospital District the past two years. 

In an annual effort to combat the flu, from late September through October, the hospital district goes in to all schools in Parker County and provides flu shots to students, staff and any interested parents. 

"I will say that the number of students who typically get vaccinated actually decreased this year and last year but we feel like that's because the FluMist hasn't been on the market the last two years," Durham said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not recommended the nasal spray vaccination recently due to concerns about its effectiveness. 

Some parents don't want their small child stuck with a needle without parent there, Durham said, adding that some of those parents may have taken their children to a pediatrician or pharmacy to get vaccinated elsewhere. 

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