The 2018 influenza season has been the worst year for the flu since 2015. So far this year, there have been 53 influenza related children deaths in the United States. Roughly 9.7% of these deaths happened the week of January 7th through January 13th, with flu related illnesses. “The flu season has been significantly worse this year because the flu vaccine is built based on the past flu strains. They actually do a really good job of making the flu vaccine and it is very effective in protecting most people. But in some ways it’s a bit of a biological guessing game because the virus mutates from year to year and we can’t predict the exact mutations. This year’s strain seems to have mutated enough that a larger population of people are “less protected”. However, it’s important to remember that the vaccine is still mostly effective and if nobody got the vaccine, the death toll would be astronomical in comparison,” says Scott Richard, Flight Paramedic Certified FP-C. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the influenza is currently highly active in 48 states, including Puerto Rico. This number is down from 49, making Hawaii and Oregon the two states with low influenza activity.

The Influenza is caused by multiple viruses, it is a contagious respiratory sickness that can have mild and or severe symptoms and could end up being deadly. “I was sick with the stomach flu for 5 days. For those 5 days I sat in my bed because I couldn’t move, and I drank fluids.” Sarah Phelan, a Roland-Story High School senior, commented.

“Another factor to consider is that there is a larger population of elderly people in our society today than there has ever been. The “baby boomer” generation is now elderly. The influenza virus effects elderly people more significantly as their bodies can’t fight it off as readily. Elderly people don’t respond as well to vaccines because their immune systems don’t work as well. So, the more elderly people in society, the more serious flu cases and flu deaths we will have. The anti-vaccine movement has also contributed to more serious cases and deaths.” Richard commented.

Influenza is affecting many people, if you have a sudden fever, feeling tired or drowsy, having dry coughs, sore throat, headache, loss of appetite you may have the flu. If you feel you may have the flu, it is best to see a doctor and call into work and or school to avoid infecting anyone else.

Iowa Methodist Medical Center. Des Moines, IA.

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