“Get your shots!” say doctors as flu hits area schools hard

From Issue 6

It’s flu season. It’s that time of the year again and people are in close quarters coughing and sneezing on each other. This year, the expected peak flu season began in December and could last as long as May. 

According to the Centers of Disease and Prevention, every flu season, researchers try to determine how well flu vaccines work as a public health intervention. Affecting how well the flu vaccine works are the design, the population, what season the flu vaccine was studied, and the outcome measured. 

It is projected that manufacturers in 2018-2019 season will provide between 163 million and 168 million doses of injectable vaccines for the US, many of which will go unused. 

Even with a great amount of research in developing the vaccine every year, many people still don’t believe that getting the flu shot is helpful. Some people claim that when they get the flu shot, they get the flu. But when they stopped getting the flu shot, they didn’t get the flu. 

Mason Nichols
“Sanitation stations,” like this one in the hallway of the Guyton Center, offer an effective way to slow the spread of the flu.

Feedback from a person in the medical field, someone on the “front lines,” is beneficial to better understand the scope of the flu. 

Dr. Tim Flowers, an Emergency Medicine physician, said that people are definitely less likely to get the flu if they get the flu vaccine. In December, his Emergency Department had approximately 100 cases of the flu, but the numbers have risen in January to about 300. It has mainly been the influenza A strain. Numbers rise in colder and wetter weather because people tend to stay inside around other people, often other sick people.

Some might still be wondering how you can get the flu even though you got the flu shot. While the flu shot prevents many common strains of influenza, it is still possible to get sick. The flu shot can’t protect you from every illness and flu strain. Other reasons why you still might get sick after getting the flu shot is there might have not been enough time for your body to develop immunity, you were already exposed to the flu, the vaccine didn’t cover that specific strain of the flu, or, simply, your body did not respond fully to the vaccine. 

Influenza vaccines are made from a dead virus, and supposedly contracting the flu from the flu vaccine is impossible.

An informal survey of students at Prep found that of twenty two people contacted, the majority of them did not get the flu shot this year.  

Madeleine Conerly, who is in the 10th grade and did get the flu shot said, “I believe the flu shot works because every time I have gotten it, I have not gotten the flu.” 

10th grader Kimberly Blount said, “My mom makes us get one every year, but honestly I don’t know if it actually works because it’s one of those things that is hit or miss.” 

As  we move into February, people are starting to feel the effects of the flu. A whopping 11.4 million people have been affected nationally with 136,000 of those people being hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Locally, almost 10% of students in the Clinton school district have been out of school because of the flu. Clinton is currently taking precautions like spraying the school door knobs and has even hired a cleaning service for the weekends.  Many at Prep are asking “should we be taking these precautions too?” 

During the week before and after the recent Show Choir Masters Competition held at Prep, the flu seemed to be hitting Prep hard.  

The administration has been preparing classrooms by giving out Lysol and Clorox Wipes to teachers to use at their discretion. So far no teachers have reported personally having the flu, only students. 

I believe the flu shot works because every time I have gotten it, I have not gotten the flu.”

— Madeleine Conerly

Ms. Katie Luckey, a Spanish teacher, advises students to “wash your hands, stop eating and drinking after each other, and visit your doctor if you have flu-like symptoms.” 

The flu has also affected Jackson Prep sports teams. At press time, several of the boys’ and girls’ basketball players have been out because of the flu.  

If you are still on the fence on whether to get the flu shot, the Centers of Disease and Prevention recommends that everyone that is 6 months and older gets a yearly flu vaccine. 

If you happen to get the flu, go home so you can prevent spreading it to other people.  

Remember, you should always wash your hands and stay away from anyone that is sick.