The Flu Hits PPS


Chart of the flu trends this season

By Lily Tewfik, Reporter

This winter, the topic on everyone’s mind is sickness–in particular, the flu. But how bad is it really, and what can you do to prevent it, or, if you’re already sick?

The answer isn’t completely clear, but one thing is for sure: it’s pretty bad, but it’s not as bad as most people think. The main culprit this year: the flu vaccine.  

“I’ve been hearing that the vaccine this year is not as effective as they want it to be. There’s been people hospitalized. But, it is pretty common every year. When the flu comes up, some people just get it really bad, and they end up going to the hospital,” said Cleveland nurse Tegan Leipzig.

Brenda Brischetto, a family physician at Providence Milwaukie Healing Place, agreed. According to Brischetto, every year a flu vaccine is developed based on what kind of influenza virus is assumed to be most widespread.

It varies year to year. They try to look at past years’ strains of virus, and then they develop a vaccine based on that, that they think will be a good solution for the coming year. Most of the time, it’s more than 50 percent effective. It varies, like I said, every year. This year, it was less than 50 percent effective,” said Brischetto.

PPS has been hit especially hard during this flu season, something that, according to Leipzig, is common in a school setting, when exposure to hundreds of people everyday can lead to the flu being spread very quickly.

There’s been about 20 percent of the PPS student body as a whole, not just Cleveland, that have been out sick in the last couple months, which is pretty high,” said Leipzig.

Even though the flu shot isn’t as effective this year as it was in previous years, Leipzig still stresses its importance.

“Especially if you’re in a school setting like this, where you’re around lots of people, it’s really important to get your flu shot because you’re just exposed to so many germs everyday,” said Leipzig.

Leipzig added that the flu vaccine is available in the health center to every PPS student.

“If you’re a PPS student, any care that you get here is free. You don’t have to have insurance, and if you’re 15 years or older, you don’t need parent consent, and you can come and get that done if you want it done,” said Leipzig.

If you’re worried that you missed the chance to get your shot, don’t fret; according to Brischetto, there’s still time.

It is not too late. There are still cases of Influenza B. The rate of influenza B is rising, but the rate of Influenza A is going down. So there’s still more and more cases of the flu out there,” said Brischetto.  

If you can’t get the flu shot, Brischetto’s advice on how to prevent the flu was very simple: stay healthy. She recommended getting lots of fluids and rest, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and supporting your immune system by taking Vitamin C. She added that though there isn’t conclusive evidence to prove that herbal supplements help, they could still be helpful.

However, if you’re unlucky enough to have already gotten the flu, Brischetto’s recommendations are largely the same as her recommendations for prevention, with one addition: Tamiflu.

Tamiflu is the antiviral medication, that if you take it in the first three days of feeling sick, particularly the first two days of having the flu, it can make it not as severe, and make it not as long,” said Brischetto.

The bottom line is: the flu may be slightly worse this year due to a less effective vaccine, but it’s still important to get the flu shot if you can, and it’s not the end of the world if you get the flu.