Flu season is in full swing, and Southern California hospitals are already having a hard time dealing with the alarming number of patients. This has professionals worried, as medical facilities are already beginning to strain under the workload.
3,415 people had to call the ambulance due to severe flu symptoms in Riverside County alone, 31% more than in the previous year. The number of sufferers is so great, some hospitals have even had to convert conference rooms into hospital salons. It was the only way to handle the spike in patients; 13,000 confirmed cases of the flu in Riverside County alone is cause for alarm. According to medical officials, the peak of the season normally comes in at the end of January, but this year there have been six times as many cases of influenza reported, compared to the same time in 2017.
Under the circumstances, doctors have been redoubling their efforts to convince people to get vaccinated against influenza. As it is, emergency rooms are getting crowded with flu patients, and even some pharmacies have reported running out of Tamiflu, one of the most widely used flu medications on the market.
Doctor Michael Neri at the Kaiser Permanente hospital points out that flu has a higher mortality rate than diseases people are much more scared of, like breast cancer. But unlike breast cancer, there are vaccines available against flu, so it is quite troubling that people are forgoing these essential means of protection in such high numbers. Many segments of the population are particularly vulnerable to this viral scourge, including the elderly, young children, and pregnant women. Vaccines can protect not only these susceptible categories, but also people who can rely more on their immunity.
The bottom line is, regardless of the individual benefits a vaccine can ensure, or whether people believe they can risk not taking advantage of the boost in immunity they offer, medical facilities and professionals would certainly benefit from a more socially conscious approach to the matter. The less pressure to treat patients who end up in emergency rooms because of skipping their flu shot, the more doctors and hospital beds will be available for illnesses that aren’t as preventable.