Flu Outbreak


Jocelyn Garza (11)

Thousands of people have fallen victim to this season’s flu outbreak. Hospitals are seeing a record number of patients for the flu, schools are shutting down, and there have been shortages of antiviral medication. This year’s flu season has proven to be one of the most intense since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, with at least 63 children dying due to flu complications.
The flu itself is caused by three types of viruses: A, B, and C. Currently in the United States, the H3N2 type A flu strain is the culprit for most flu related illnesses. As most people know, the flu is a highly contagious disease which spreads through direct contact with respiratory droplets or with an infected surface, like doorknobs, phones, and computer keyboards. The virus then enters your body when you touch your eyes, mouth, or nose. This is why the flu tends to spread like wildfire in schools and other public places.
Headlines have screamed out news about how intense and deadly this particular flu season has been. Scores of children and adults have died from issues stemming from the flu virus. In this day and age, it might be difficult to understand why people are still dying from a disease there is a vaccine for. This is because this year’s vaccine is just 25% effective against the already dangerous H3N2 strain of the flu virus. Although this is a common excuse people give against getting the flu shot, in reality this vaccine saves millions of lives. Even if you were to get the flu, the vaccine creates a good immune response in your body, which will cause you to have a milder case of the flu and speed up your recovery, says Allison Winnike, J.D., president and CEO of The Immunization Partnership, a nonprofit vaccine advocacy and education organization.Even though the need to a better flu vaccine is evident, doctors and scientists agree that it is better to vaccinate yourself than to be unvaccinated. “It has is a huge lifesaving effectiveness for a certain number of patients,” said Aaron Glatt, chairman of the department of medicine at South Nassau Communities Hospital, Oceanside, New York. He noted that about 70% of children who have died of flu in recent years were not vaccinated. Despite all the skepticism surrounding the flu shot, it is better to be safe than sorry as far as vaccination. Take care of yourself and those around you.
While this year’s flu outbreak has been intense, there is no reason to succumb to the disease. Everyone can take simple and practical steps to prevent the illness from spreading around. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says you can prevent the spread of germs by avoiding close contact with people who are sick, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and by washing your hands with soap and water often. If, unfortunately, you do come down with the flu, it is important to seek medical attention and take the antiviral medicine your doctor prescribes. These drugs make your illness more mild and can protect you against dangerous complications from the flu.
Flu season is not yet over, and it can last until late March. Therefore, keep making sure you take the necessary steps to ensure that you and your friends and family have a safe and healthy finish to it.