The flu season started early this year, resulting with influenza-like symptoms in more than 29 states in America.
“In retrospect, we had thought the flu was no big deal since the immunizations were available and most people were getting them,” Leonora Eide, a local pharmacist technician said. “But, we shouldn’t throw caution to the wind when we are talking about an epidemic that could cause death, if not treated correctly.”
It has come to the point where another person sneezes the first thing that comes to your mind is a mumbled “bless you.” Yet people’s minds fail to register the fact that those tiny particles floating through the air surrounding you and the food that you could potentially eat, could lead to conjuring up the fast growing viral influenza.
The influenza is ultimately spread around by the traveling of particles and bacteria in the air, in many ways it has to do with other people’s viruses entering your system, which relates to the Italian definition of influenza, “influence of a cold.”
“The flu symptoms vary in people…as in years past. Small children and [the] elderly suffer the most. The symptoms are anywhere from moderate to severe and can last two weeks or longer,” Eide said.
Sheryl Huber, a local community member, comments on the many symptoms of the flu.
“Nasal congestion, body aches, fatigue, headaches and a higher body temperature,” Huber said.
When looking to prevent the flu, Eide recommends getting the influenza vaccination. Yet there are many arguments analyzing whether the benefits of the flu outweigh the risks.
“Many people, even doctors are torn on the decision to vaccinate or not. There has been a lot of talk these days about the preservatives in the vaccine long term effects, such as links to other diseases,” Eide said. “The numbers are growing of parents that are choosing not to vaccinate. But when the media came out with the story of an elementary school aged boy passing away before Christmas, many parents did choose to vaccinate this year.”
Or a personal preference, Eide has gotten the flu shot since it has been available.
“Being in the health care field I always get mine because I am exposed on a daily basis but I also choose to immunize my kids too. I base this decision on my trusted pediatrician’s recommendation, personal experience with the flu and mother’s intuition,” Eide said.
Many people would prefer the preservatives not being in their system but most doctors are pro-immunization, including Emergency medical doctor, Vince Ball. On a usual day, he tends to see a total of 150 people, lately having 20 or 30 coming in with the symptoms of the flu.
“Yes, immunizations are often a good choice but there are better times than others to get them,” Ball said.
The flu vaccine lasts for a whole year. If you get them in the heart of flu season, you will be behind the next year, if you decide to get them again. On top of that, the shot doesn’t protect against the flu until 14 days after it is administered, leaving a gap in your immune system for the opportunity to get either a cold or the influenza.
If you do end up getting the flu, Ball would recommend rest and fluids.
As the flu season started off rapidly, many people were affected by the influenza, both Eide and Ball have noticed the increasing number of patients coming in for flu shots. Since many news reports have been televised, the discerning question is if the media affects people’s perspectives on the flu and the vaccination.
“The flu season started early this year. We had an adolescent death here in PierceCounty in December. Usually our flu season doesn’t peak until late January and lasts through March, we normally give about three to seven flu shots daily,” Eide said.
Many deaths have also been present in the state of Washington which is uncommon for the Northwest.
“After the flu story posted in the Tacoma News Tribune, we were giving about five shots per hour. Our pharmacists average about 15 minutes to administer the vaccinations so as you can see we were put behind the eight ball trying to tend to the sick that were already infected and immunizing the rest of the public against the flu. It’s finally starting to taper off. Hopefully, we have seen the worst of the season,” Eide said.
Huber had also agreed that the media can and does affect how people think about the flu. The media had influenced her decision on getting the flu shot.
“As I watched the news and they were saying how much worse it is this year and how many more people are getting it and knowing a lot of people who had the flu, I got nervous and decided it couldn’t hurt,” Huber said.
The flu is a year-round epidemic, where the symptoms change slightly, regarding the time of year. This fall has been one of the worst flu seasons recorded, thankfully with new medication and treatment, the illness has been controlled.