Kerri Klatt

Staff Writer

With hospitalization and deaths from the flu skyrocketing, the importance of vaccines cannot be denied.

The influenza A virus, H3N3, is the most frequently identified virus this flu season. During the third week of the flu season, which normally begins in the late fall, 10.1 percent of deaths were due to pneumonia and influenza, according to the National Center for Health Statistics from the Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC). That percentage is above the epidemic threshold of 7.3%. During week four of the flu season, the influenza activity has increased throughout the United States.  “We (Ohio) had our peak in December of 2017,” said Dr. Harry Kestler, Professor of Microbiology at Lorain County Community College. The CDC has reported that a total of 63 deaths of children have occurred due to influenza associated deaths for the 2017-2018 flu season.  In Cuyahoga County, 21 people have died from the flu, according to the Cuyahoga County board of health.  “The number of cases we are seeing are phenomenal” said Kestler, “The flu isn’t anything to take lightly, it is very serious.”

  According to The Ohio Department of Health, ODH, the flu viruses are spread through coughing and sneezing. The seasonal influenza is an illness that causes fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches. The ODH states that three influenza viruses are circulating presently that includes the influenza A (H1N1) viruses, influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and influenza B viruses.

  The CDC recommends that people six months of age and older should get vaccinated each year.  Vaccines are designed to protect against influenza viruses that experts believe to be the most common for the upcoming flu season, according to the ODH. “The CDC and the drug company’s goals are to get the vaccines ready for the winter months,” said Kestler, “The vaccine does do a good benefit for us, and there is misinformation, wrong information, and hypocrisy in the media about vaccines.”

The last flu of significance was the H1N1 which happened in 2009.

“The vaccines make a lot of it go away, like in 2009, when we fizzled out the H1N1 virus. Those vaccinations did a great job.”

  Flu pandemics have spanned the globe killing millions of humans throughout history. For example, the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, when the Spanish influenza was an epidemic spreading from Europe to the United States in 1918. “1918 was a big year for the flu,” said Kestler, “And these things come back.”