Liturgy Note: Influenza and the Distribution of Holy Communion

In the Diocese of Jackson, the Norm and Directive for Distribution of Holy Communion is under both species – meaning the consecrated body and blood of Christ is offered from the paten and the chalice for each communicant. The communicant may decide whether to receive from both and whether to receive the consecrated host in the hands or on the tongue.
Currently, intinction is not an option for distribution of Holy Communion in the diocese. Self-intinction is never allowed. Chalice ministers should politely decline any attempt to dip the consecrated host into the precious blood by a communicant.
During flu season, the bishop gives the pastor the option to dispense from distribution from the chalice if there is an epidemic in the area of that parish. If the diocese becomes enveloped in an epidemic, the bishop may ask all parishes to dispense from distribution from the chalice and he may ask communicants to receive in the hand until the epidemic has passed. At this time the bishop has not made a diocesan-wide declaration, therefore, all parishes should be distributing Holy Communion under both species unless there is a flu epidemic on the local level.
All pastors, lay ecclesial ministers and pastoral ministers should exercise common sense precautions when it comes to the liturgy and the flu. Influenza is often spread from person to person through contact with coughing and sneezing of an infected person. Simple hygiene such as washing hands and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers before Mass and the distribution of Holy Communion can prevent the spread of influenza. If an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion or altar server is sick whether it is the flu or the common cold or whatever, then he or she should not serve until the sickness has passed.
Mary Woodward