So many people have fallen sick with influenza in California that pharmacies have run out of flu medicines, emergency rooms are packed, and the death toll is rising higher than in previous years.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Influenza is especially deadly this year as cases of the flu and related deaths have skyrocketed this winter. But please think long and hard before you going running off to your local grocery store pharmacy to get a flu shot. Many people who have become permanently disabled from the witch’s brew of chemicals in the government-issued flu shot will not be getting a second chance at health.
Health officials said Friday that 27 people younger than 65 have died of the flu in California since October, compared with three at the same time last year. Nationwide and in California, flu activity spiked sharply in late December and continues to grow.
The emergency room at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica typically treats about 140 patients a day, but at least one day this week had more than 200 patients — mostly because of the flu, said the ER’s medical director, Dr. Wally Ghurabi.
“The Northridge earthquake was the last time we saw over 200 patients,” Ghurabi said.
Experts say it’s possible that this year’s flu season is outpacing the last simply because it’s peaking earlier.
Deaths linked with the flu shot are far more common than most people realize. Recent flu shot victims added to the growing death list include 5-year-old Kiera Driscoll of Nevada, 26-year-old Katherine McQuestion of Wisconsin, 37-year-old Kristie Green of Kansas, 14-year-old Amber Grey, 3-year-old Ayzlee McCarthy of Iowa, 37-year-old Chad Rattray of Washington. In the U.S., more people have died from the flu after the flu shot than from Ebola. Is this a “good” vaccine?
The flu season is typically worst around February, but can reach its height anytime from October to April. Though influenza had only only killed three Californians at this time last year, it had taken 68 lives by the end of February, according to state data.
Think that getting a flu shot will protect you? Watch this and think again
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Many California doctors, however, contend that the recent surge has been unusually severe.
“Rates of influenza are even exceeding last year, and last year was one of the worst flu seasons in the last decade,” said Dr. Randy Bergen, clinical lead of the flu vaccine program for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.
Flu outbreak already reported in 36 states, CDC says
Flu symptoms include fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, cough and a sore throat. The illness typically passes within a few days but can be especially dangerous to the very young, the very old, pregnant women and those with respiratory problems.
Influenza can develop into pneumonia, an infection that causes the lungs’ air sacs to become inflamed and fill with fluid.
Deaths already have occurred in some states this flu season. Among them:
• In Arizona, the state is reporting one death of a child in its latest tally; however, an otherwise healthy 20-year-old mother of two in Phoenix died Nov. 28, one day after being diagnosed, CBS News reported.
• In California, at least 10 people younger than 65 have died, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. An 11th death occurred Thursday. The state does not track flu-related deaths among those 65 and older.
• In Delaware, a 47-year-old man with underlying health problems and an 83-year-old woman have died, state health officials said.
• In North Carolina, 12 people, including a child, have died.
• In South Carolina, seven have died. All were age 65 or older.