A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Influenza makes a deadly comeback


The population of Prince George’s County is suffering from what has been deadly in other states: influenza. According to DCW50, the first flu-related child death this season occurred in Baltimore, MD.

Despite the fatality so close to home, flu like symptoms don’t seem very alarming for some.

“I don’t really have an opinion on the vaccine and I will get it if I have to,” said senior Natalya Nicholas. “I get a little mucus build up but I don’t think it’s the flu so I don’t pay much attention to it.”

There are many people who think like Nicholas and that is a common misconception, being that a great number of people have been dying because of it.

In the District, close to 400 confirmed cases of the season’s 624 so far were reported in the first two weeks of January. In Maryland, the second week of January saw the highest week of flu activity this season. According to the Maryland Department of Health, 208 people tested positive for the flu. Of those who were hospitalized because of the sickness, 59 percent were over the age of 65.

There have been a number of individuals who have taken this virus as a game. However, the virus itself came to work and it has taken many lives with it. This deadly virus cannot proceed being brushed off because it has turned into such a serious matter.

Each year, there are usually a few different strains of the flu virus circulating around. But in 2018, the nation is seeing more of the Influenza A-H3N2 than any other strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC release a statement, explaining that “in previous seasons it tends to happen in different parts of the United States at different times. This is one of the first years we’ve really seen that widespread activity is everywhere. Flu is really across the board in every state at the same time.” Something that is often pushed to the side has now become very difficult to control.

Despite an aggressive awareness campaign to increase the number of people getting flu shots, the CDC say far too many people — including infants as young as 6 months old — are not getting vaccinated.

“I don’t think people want to get the flu shot because they think it’s pointless or they believe they have their own remedies that can care for the flu when it comes”, said Nicholas.

A survey conducted in September by Harris Poll on behalf of CityMD, an urgent-care-center network, found that 52 percent of millennials don’t plan on getting the flu shot during this year’s influenza season. For a quarter of millennials polled, the reasoning  was cost, not conspiracy, that prevented them from getting the vaccine.

Parkdale alumni Joel Domercant adds that despite the fact that it is free to get these vaccines, for a college student it is particularly difficult.

“My opinion on the students that cannot afford to get vaccinated is that they should be given a waiver or help from the government in the form of health care” said Domercant. “They could even add it to the schools health rooms to make sure that everyone gets vaccinated”.

For residents who may not have easy access to healthcare, stores like Rite Aid and Walmart offer free flu shots.

For more information on how to prevent the flu, visit https://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/1949/The-Flu