By Tanner Tait
Fighting through the thick of winter, many Americans are finding themselves tired, rundown and unwell: an unfortunate reminder that flu season has returned. This season is especially strong, with popular media outlets crying out about the dangers of the flu and the importance of vaccination. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, there’s a veritable reason for the hysteria.
In an interview with popular women’s magazine, The Cut, press officer for the CDC Kristen Nordlund notes that the flu’s “widespread activity is everywhere…across the board in every state at the same time.” Not only is this year’s strain – “A (H3N2)” according to the CDC – considered especially dominant, but it’s attacking on all fronts.
Between the weeks of Oct. 1 and Jan. 27, the CDC has declared that a total of “14,676 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported” and “53 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported.”
Faced with an extra strong strain of flu, Dr. Robin Flam of CareMount Medical has seen plenty of patients coming in with the same, familiar symptoms. Noting the percentage of deaths this year, Flam says it’s “an unusual occurrence,” and explains that it’s an unfortunate mix of a deadly strain with a relatively ineffective vaccine. This year’s flu vaccine has a low efficiency because the exact organism could not be anticipated. “You get your info mostly in advance,” Flam says, “but it’s still an educated guess.”
In addition to not entirely knowing what strain would appear, influenza A (H3N2) is known for being resilient against vaccinations, according to the CDC. Despite the statistics regarding vaccine efficiency, the CDC still recommends getting a flu shot. MSMC Junior Lily Chimenti, in her experience as a nursing aide at Southampton Hospital, has always been a supporter for the flu vaccine.
“The issue currently is the amount of people who aren’t receiving the vaccination,” Chimenti explains, “because when you don’t vaccinate yourself, you’re not only putting yourself at risk for the flu but everyone around you as well.”
Chimenti cites laziness as one of the primary deterrents for families to get vaccinated, despite it being advertised and offered many places – even supermarkets. “I know a lot of people who have gotten symptoms of the flu after getting vaccinated, which prevents them from doing it again,” she says, “but I’ve also seen a lot of patients requesting a flu shot before they’re discharged.”
To emphasize the danger of this season’s flu, and the necessity of getting vaccinated, she added that one of her patients from clinical unfortunately had the flu twice during the 2017-2018 season.
Aside from vaccinations, both Flam and Chimenti urge the public to practice hand hygiene. “Arguably the most effective way of prevention for any spreadable sickness,” says Chimenti. Flam says to additionally avoid crowds and stay home if exhibiting symptoms: “Don’t get run down; go home to heal,” she says.
If you are concerned about the flu, or have any other maladies, the Health Services team is always available. For more information, contact them at 845-569-3152, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.