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Flu season 2008 is not over yet
Posted April 30, 2008

Jennifer Kitzmann
LV Life Editor

Though flu season officially started in November and was supposed to end in March, it is not over.

According to health officials this year's flu season has been one of the worst in four years.

Katrina Engh, a ULV junior public affairs major who had the flu this year, said she usually gets the flu shot but missed the dates to get one.
“I was sick for a week and I am still not sure I am over it completely,” Engh said.

The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the vaccine is usually 70 percent to 80 percent effective. This year the vaccine was only 44 percent effective.  

Each year, health officials formulate a vaccine or strain against the viruses that mutate with different components of “A” and “B” Influenza that they think will be circulating.
Christine Thomson, who is a registered nurse in the ICU at UCLA Medical Center, said that many of the people who are coming down with the flu never get rid of it the first time because they do not get the proper diagnosis.
“Many of our patients have returned a second or third time even having had the flu shot but they keep getting the same flu,” Thomson said.
Thomson said that patients are complaining of low-grade flu symptoms that seem to have lasted longer this year than previous years.
Influenza, has symptoms beginning with two to seven days of fever, headache, muscle aches, extreme fatigue, runny nose, sore throat and a cough.

In some people, the flu can cause serious complications, including bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.

The flu usually spread from person to person known as the “Spanish Flu” Influenza Pandemic, is the most common flu when infection can be from a cough or sneeze. Touching something with the influenza virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes may infect people.

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci said influenza has not been treated with the degree of medical attention that the disease warrants.

Another reason the vaccines were not as effective this year, was that, the research did not get the support it needed federally, commercially or publicly.

Lacking a strong public support for the seasonal flu vaccine and a reliable market, flu vaccine manufacturers had no intentions to improve on the complex egg-based production technology that has been used since the 1950s.
The Institute of Medicine reports that research has been more focused on other diseases and epidemics such as AIDS and cancer rather than on flu vaccine research.
However, the vaccine did provide substantial protection against the influenza virus circulating this season, which is known as the influenza A virus.

Student Health Services Director, Cynthia Denne said that many may think that they do not need the vaccine next year and will take their chances. 
“It is still in their best interest to have the vaccine especially if they or someone they care for have health issues and getting the flu would only compromise their well being,” Denne said.
This year, people vaccinated were 58 percent less likely to have Influenza A infection than those not vaccinated.

“Even though many say that the flu shot did not work for them, I am still going to continue getting it every year just to be safe,” Engh said.
Flu vaccines can be obtained from doctors, at public health centers and many pharmacies. In some areas, flu vaccines are also available at senior or community centers and at supermarkets.

A flu shot can greatly lower your chance of getting the flu.

The best time to get the shot is from the middle of October to the middle of November, because most people get the flu in the winter.

Jennifer Kitzmann can be reached at jkitzmann@ulv.edu.