Extraordinary flu season is deadliest in years

Taylor Gayner and Sione Tuiaki

Due to failed tests by vaccine manufacturers, the rate of reported hospitalized flu cases in California has drastically increased compared to past flu seasons.

These manufacturers have been using a process created decades ago, which has since become outdated. There has been a failure in the labs: they use eggs to extract the vaccine, which has resulted in an outbreak of this disease.

Flu vaccines (and most other vaccines) are made by injecting chicken eggs into the influenza so that the virus can replicate the egg substances to prevent the virus in humans. The egg substance targets the major antibody contained in the virus. Recently, however, the eggs have been mutating, defeating the purpose of soaking them to fight off specific antibodies, which has contributed to the lack of effectiveness for most patients. The patients who received the vaccines are still less likely to get the flu than those who haven’t been vaccinated, but the vaccines have not been operating as well as they usually do.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Jan. 12 that California and New York have had the worst and most widespread flu outbreaks recently. Because California has one of the worst outbreaks, many students and staff have been out of school sick with the flu, which has impacted their learning. Some students also had to miss their finals in order to recover and avoid spreading it.

“Lots of my students said they got very sick over winter break, around the time of finals,” Biology teacher Ashley Horgan said.

This is the first flu season in decades where the flu virus is airborne, meaning you can catch it by just breathing. Since it has become so easily transferable, it added to the stress that students have around finals week because they also needed to be more cautious of their surroundings.

Physicians are insisting people get their flu shots—about 85 percent of children who died from the flu were not vaccinated, CDC Director

Brenda Fitzgerald wrote on the CDC website. Some of the flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches,
headaches, fatigue and vomiting.

Junior Henry Utech caught the flu for the third time in his life during finals week this year and had to fight through it,taking some of his finals in an isolated area of the classroom while wearing a coughing mask.

“I missed most of my finals, but the ones I attended, I received horrible grades on compared to the finals I did after I recovered from the flu,” Utecht said.

Although missing school is always tough, catching up on missed high school curriculum can be even harder.

“My advice to other students is that staying in bed and missing school is more beneficial than going to school while sick because you will still have a hard time learning anyways, so just stay in bed until you have fully recovered,” Utecht said.

While some young, healthy people have died of the flu, those most at risk are elderly people and young children. As Lena Sun wrote in The Washington Post, a particular concern for health experts is the increase in people hospitalized with lab-confirmed cases. Nearly 6,500 people were hospitalized since this years flu season began. Seven children have died within the first week of January. Since then, 42 cases of flu deaths have been reported in California.

What makes the threat of the flu worse is that most of the IV saline bags treatments are manufactured in Puerto Rico, where they are still recovering from Hurricane Maria. Hospitals flooded with flu patients are quickly running low on saline, leading medical staff to rely on lengthy and potentially dangerous treatments.

Although the vaccines haven’t been working as effectively, it is still recommended that people receive their flu shots every year. Other recommended forms of prevention include constantly washing one’s hands, covering one’s mouth and nose and staying home when one is sick in order to avoid infecting others.