Contributed by Laura Keefe
The Hammond Health Center has seen a sudden increase in visits from students suffering from symptoms of the flu (influenza). On Monday and Tuesday of this week, we have had 25 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza. The CDC has reported that H1N1 (swine flu) influenza virus is circulating this season and that it may disproportionately affect young and middle-aged adults.
We strongly encourage all students, faculty and staff who have not yet received the influenza vaccine this season to get vaccinated.
Mother Jones published an article today about the danger of one of the flu strains circulating this year, H1N1 - http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/01/is-it-too-late-to-get-a-flu-shot
However, CDC spokesperson Jason McDonald notes that more people between the ages of 18 and 64 have been hospitalized for flulike symptoms this year than in previous years. This season's predominant virus strain is H1N1—which, when it originated in 2009, also sent an unusually high number people in the 18-to-64 age range to the hospital. Epidemiologists don't know why H1N1 hits younger people hard, but one theory, says McDonald, is that older adults have built up more immunity to it. H1N1 is similar to the virus that caused the Spanish Flu of 1918, and also to strains that circulated in the '60s and '70s. Another possible factor: Only about 30 percent of younger adults get flu shots, compared to about 40 percent of older adults.
Orac of Respectful Insolence also posted about the flu and how "natural" remedies don't cure it - Surviving the flu using "natural" remedies.
Until a universal flu vaccine that doesn’t depend on the highly variable epitopes that are targeted by today’s flu vaccine is developed, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine will vary from year to year for the foreseeable future. This makes the flu vaccine an easier target for the antivaccine movement, which targets because they can use the flu vaccine as an “example” of a vaccine that they can mislabel as “overhyped,” “useless,” and even “dangerous,” the last of which they try to achieve by massively exaggerating the risks of the flu vaccine and appealing to a flu vaccination campaign from nearly 40 years ago, the “swine flu” campaign.
Key to this campaign is the need to portray the flu as not being a serious illness, as a normal part of life, as a disease that doesn’t need to be vaccinated against. This portrayal of the flu is completely disconnected with reality, of course. The flu can kill, and, when it does kill, the people it kills are often young and perfectly healthy.