ALLEGHANY COUNTY, Va (WFXR) — According to the Virginia Department of Health, it is likely going to be a pretty significant flu season. Flu and flu-like illnesses have caused some schools to temporarily close, but experts say there are steps people can take to reduce their risk.

Ellen Fischer is the nurse at Clifton Middle School and says students were coming to her with strong flu-like symptoms.

“What I was seeing here was just a lot of kids coming in with nausea, vomiting, headache, sore throats, temperatures. A lot of what I’ve sent home in the last few days have been fevers,” said Fischer.

Clifton Middle School says it made the decision to close after between 20-30 percent of the student body stayed home with flu and flu-like illnesses.

Fischer says she saw a significant increase in the number of students going to the nurse over the past week.

“I went from averaging probably 30 students a day to close to 50,” said Fischer.

Dr. Brooke Rossheim from the Virginia Department of Health says the best form of protection against the flu is vaccination.

“The trajectory is going up. I want people to take it seriously, so if people have not been vaccinated, now is the time to get vaccinated,” said Rossheim.

Dr. Rossheim emphasized the importance of going to a doctor if you have symptoms to make sure you are getting the correct treatment you need.

“The symptoms of the flu can be indistinguishable from Covid,” said Rossheim.

Vaccinations aside, both Dr. Rossheim and Fischer say your best defense is right in your hands.

“We encourage hand washing — that’s the number one defense against the spread of infection,” said Fischer.

“There have been so many studies that have been done that show that hand washing and or the use of hand sanitizer lowers the likelihood of getting respiratory infection,” said Dr. Rossheim.

Dr. Rossheim adds that cleaning high-touch surfaces, avoiding contact with infected people, and practicing protective hygiene like coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your arm, can help prevent the spread of germs. He also says, if you are feeling sick, stay home.