Severe flu season strikes: Here’s what you should know

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Randy Paulson | Simpson College

Amidst the news of the government shutdown, controversial comments by President Trump and speculation of a possible Oprah candidacy for the White House is a story that’s perhaps more urgent and relevant to us all: flu season is here — and it’s severe.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly every U.S. state is experiencing widespread cases of influenza.

CNN reported there have been approximately 75,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu this season, with about a third of those being confirmed in the second week of January. The article said there have already been 30 confirmed pediatric deaths in the nation from the flu this season.

Lynnette Brammer, head of the CDC’s Domestic Flu Surveillance team, is quoted in the article saying, “We want to continue to emphasize that there’s still a lot of flu activity to come, people that haven’t been vaccinated should still get the vaccine.”

In Iowa, the Des Moines Register reported 29 people have died from the flu, that number having almost doubled in the past week.

The author, Tony Leys, wrote that the flu is particularly hard on the elderly and those with chronic health conditions: Of the 29 people deceased, 23 were above the age of 80 and 19 had underlying health problems. Leys also noted that the number of flu deaths in Iowa may actually be higher, since it can take weeks to confirm the death was flu-related.

I recently interviewed Simpson’s director of health services, Katie Lee, about flu season for a story I wrote in The Simpsonian. She recommended that everyone who has not already done so should get the flu vaccination.

She also listed simple, yet effective measures students can take to avoid getting the flu and stay healthy:

  1. Getting the flu vaccination
  2. Practicing good hand-washing
  3. Coughing or sneezing into one’s elbow, not into hands
  4. Wiping down common areas like door handles, appliance handles and light fixtures
  5. Taking Vitamin C or multivitamins
  6. Staying hydrated

For those living here in Indianola, the following locations are still offering flu vaccinations:

  • Hy-Vee Pharmacy
  • Medicap Pharmacy
  • Walgreens
  • Wal-Mart Pharmacy
  • Warren County Public Health

For students wishing to meet with Lee, her office is at the end of the hall on the second floor of the Kent Campus Center. Her hours are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

By the way things are looking now, this flu season is going to be brutal. I encourage everyone to follow the advice Lee listed and do all you can to stay healthy in the coming weeks.


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