“I had the flu, and it was the sickest I have ever been. I have never felt worse, and I was unable to attend school for a full week,” said sophomore Bella Cavallone.
Cavallone is not alone in her experience, as the U.S. is bracing for one of the worst flu seasons in over a decade. There are already 44 states that have reported high or very high flu activity last week.
According to The Associated Press, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that already in this flu season, there have been at least 6.2 million illnesses, 53,000 hospitalizations and 2,900 deaths from the flu. The hospitalization rate is at its highest this early since the 2010-2011 flu season.
“My friend had the flu a few weeks ago, and it was easily the sickest she has ever been,” said junior Abby Wilk. “She was out of work and school for more than a week and was barely able to leave her bed.”
Receiving the flu vaccine is one way to prevent catching the illness, but not all Americans choose to get it. The top three reasons people have decided not to take the flu shot this year are concerns about potential side effects, not thinking it is necessary and not being concerned about the flu virus.
Some Sacred Heart students choose to take the flu vaccination every year.
“I choose to get the flu vaccine every year,” said Wilk. “I have heard terrible things about getting the flu, and I would not want to be away from my classes or activities for that long.”
This year, medical professionals are also concerned about the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), in addition to the already existing influenza and Covid-19 viruses. RSV seems to be especially prevalent in children, even though adults can contract it too.
“I think the flu is coming back so strongly because of the variety of Covid regulations that have been in place over the past few years,” said Cavallone. “We were wearing masks pretty much everywhere throughout the winter last year, and I think that prevented us from a bad flu season and other viruses.”
Illnesses are not only spreading to humans this year, as the U.S. is also seeing a widespread Bird flu outbreak. While it does not usually spread to humans, it is greatly affecting birds with over 50 million deaths so far, a record number across 46 states.
These drastically high bird death numbers have resulted in meat shortages, particularly with turkeys, which affected the Thanksgiving holiday.
“I think with all of these outbreaks, it is more important than ever to take general precautions,” said Wilk. “Everyone should make sure they are washing their hands and staying home when they are sick.”