By Taylor Smith
The influenza scare that swept the country this flu season may be nearly over, as influenza activity seems to be decreasing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
During the week of Jan. 13 through 19, a total of 47 states have reported “widespread” influenza activity, compared to 48 states the previous week, the CDC said.
At Ohio Wesleyan and in the surrounding area, the disease hasn’t been as present as it has been in other parts of the country, but students and staff are still being cautious.
Randi Peterson, staff nurse at the OWU Student Health Center, said eight students have been diagnosed with influenza or influenza-like illness (ILI). Others are still preparing themselves to defend against the disease.
“We have had 292 students/staff been vaccinated on campus,” Peterson said in an email. “This does not count people vaccinated by their home doctor or pharmacy, just the ones that we did.”
Peterson said vaccines are also available at local pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS, Kroger and Meijer.
Bryan Lee, a pharmacist at CVS on South Sandusky Street, said the pharmacy has administered somewhere between 700 and 800 influenza vaccines this year. He said the pharmacy’s supply of influenza medicine and antibiotics has run out multiple times this year.
Walgreens pharmacist Jennifer Clifford had similar results. She said her staff gave 650 to 700 vaccinations this year.
In an email sent to students on Jan 19, Ohio Wesleyan reached out to students, offering advice on the prevention, symptoms, treatment and complications that may arise with influenza. Peterson said students could also access the Self-Care Information page at health.owu.edu for more advice on influenza and the cold.
Peterson wasn’t able to provide information on why there has been such as large flu outbreak at the national level.
According to the CDC, the reason for the large outbreak is that the vaccine given to recipients combats only one of the influenza strains that affect humans effectively. The vaccine is 60 to 70 percent effective against Influenza A strains, but is only 10 percent effective against the Influenza B strain.
The amount of Influenza B infections this year has doubled, leading to a greater rate of hospitalizations and deaths.
Most of these hospitalizations and deaths have occurred among young children (infants to 4-year-olds) and the elderly (ages 65 and up).