By SARA GILES
Flu season is rapidly approaching and the needles are poised to protect the students of BYU and beyond. Once considered a harmless virus, recent reports have uncovered the deadly and unexpected side of the flu.
Many people consider the flu a weekend inconvience but that is misleading.
“Influenza in an average year kills 20,000 Americans. The government has not yet finished analyzing last winter’s cases, but preliminary data suggest many more people died,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an Associated Press Release.
About 20,000 Americans die each year from influenza, and about 40,000 die from infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in adults. Taken together, they constitute the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Pneumonia and influenza rose one place in the ranking of causes of death and now stand behind only heart disease, cancer, stroke and emphysema according to the Washington Post.
Most of the problem with the severity of the results of the disease is that many people still consider the flu a minor illness.
“If I told you that over the next six months, 60,000 people would die from Ebola virus or would contract polio, what do you think our public health response would be?” said Gregory Poland, chairman of the National Coalition for Adult Immunization.
Nationwide, information has been getting out and drug manufacturers are responding. Drug manufacturers have made about 90 million doses of influenza vaccine for the current flu season — up from 70 million in 1995 and 20 million in the mid-1980’s, according to the Washington Post.
There have been flu watches issued for California, Texas, New York and Colorado. A flu alert which is considered much more dangerous than a warning, has been issued for West Virginia. Officials are predicting that this year will be one of the worst in recent history. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimates that as much as 20 percent of the population gets flu every season according to an Associated Press Release. Due to the concern arising nationally about the flu, the Health Center at BYU is preparing for students to take their shots. Gary Brinkley, Assistant Director of the Health Center said, “We have ordered 1000 doses of serum for students. There were 628 flu cases in the school year of 98-99.”
Students can get shots for five dollars at the Health Center under BYU insurance. Students who have a history of asthma or diabetes are particularly encouraged by Brinkley to get their flu shots.
“Remember when you get your shots, just think to yourself afterwards, its just one shot for man, one giant leap for public health,” said Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Howard Koh, according to an Associated Press release.
Students may consider a flu shot a needless hassle but one student changed her mind after a brutal encounter with the flu.
Monday night came and Hillary Gubler wanted to die to end the pain she said. She was throwing up everything and could not lie down. She was one of the first of many flu victims at BYU campus.
“It felt like my insides were moving around. It was gross. I wouldn’t curse it on anyone,” said Gubler, 20, a senior majoring in print journalism major from Santa Clara, Washington County. Gubler’s run-in with the flu will be a familiar event for many BYU students.