EDITORIAL: Flu season returns after fatal 2018 year
All at U. ought to be vaccinated in face of invalid skepticism, anti-vaxxers
Life was brought to a standstill. Streets were empty, businesses were barren and carts were filled with the dead. More than a century has passed since “the greatest medical holocaust in history,” the 1918 Flu Pandemic. Estimates of those who succumb to the virus range from 50 to 100 million. Even though modern medicine has advanced, salvation has been elusive.
Eighty-thousand Americans died of the flu last season, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While 90 percent of those killed were over the age of 65, the flu also killed 180 young children and teenagers, which surpasses every other year since the CDC began its current measuring methods.
New Jersey is already seeing significant surges in emergency room visits and admissions as this year’s flu season has not even reached its peak, which is usually around February. Officials have said it is still too early to know if the season will be as devastating as last year, but the virus officially hit widespread levels throughout the state, according to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH).
In December, Chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) Brian L. Strom sent out an email to implore students to take care of their health and get vaccinated. To most effectively prevent the flu and decrease its symptoms and spread, Strom encouraged students to receive vaccinations, as The Daily Targum reported.
The warnings and advisory messages may remain ringing out as unanswered calls to fulfill our responsibility to our own health and the welfare of all. According to Rutgers Student Health, the University has annual flu clinics. The next clinic is open today, Jan. 29, at the Livingston Student Center and Sojourner Truth Apartments. It is often easier to claim the excuse of being too busy, but now is the time to make the time to get your vaccine.
Anti-vaccination movements and apathetic indifference to reality has seen success in America. Over the past two decades, the latest national data shows that the amount of kids under the age of 2 who are not protected by any vaccines has quadrupled. This is still a very small minority as the vast majority of American parents still vaccinate their children.
Some trace back the roots of this problem to a small study that was published by an esteemed medical journal in 1998. That study has come to be known as one of the most notorious and damaging research papers in medicine. The now discredited physician-researcher Andrew Wakefield, who led the study, suggested a “link exists between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine,” vaccines that are administered to millions of children around the world each year. Even though the study was invalidated and disproven, the damage remains.
Everyone must choose between being a sheep to a disproven and discredited shepherd or being active in the strengthening of our “herd immunity.” This herd resistance or herd immunity is the concept that the more people who are vaccinated, the less likely the disease is to spread as it becomes harder for it to be contracted from one person to another.
A society plagued by science skepticism must prepare to welcome reducible and avoidable illnesses. Between last October and this month, the NJDOH and other local health officials worked together to investigate an outbreak of measles. They identified a total of 33 outbreak-associated cases in the state.
While many of us remain in the University bubble with our youthful resilience and impenetrable immune systems, the most vulnerable cannot ignore the threat of the season. Initiatives ought to be based in the University and extended to the broader community of New Brunswick to ensure that vaccinations are administered. Get your flu shot at the Livingston Student Center and Sojourner Truth Apartments.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 150th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.