BATHESDA, MD — A lot of Americans spent this last weekend indoors. Some sick, some caring for someone who’s sick and probably many others who are not sick, but worried they’ll catch the flu.
The good news is that the CDC believes the flu has slowed down at least in terms of the rate of its spread but, as reporter Tom Costello explains, the bad news is that it has spread to 47 states and has overwhelmed entire cities.
With heavy flu now reported in nearly every state, health departments are reporting long lines to get the vaccine.
In Huntsville, Alabama, the kids were getting the mist vaccine today.
At the Cook Travel Agency in New York, more than 30% of the staff is out sick. The flu was even the uninvited guest at the Golden Globes.
Hugh Jackman, just recovering, says, “I was kicking myself for not getting a flu shot.”
And one of Hollywood’s biggest names was unable to attend, “Meryl Streep is not here tonight. She has the flu, and I hear she’s amazing in it,” one presenter said.
Experts continue to warn, the virus can live for hours. Think of all the things you touch every day, that others may have already touched; children’s toys, grocery carts, self-check-out registers, ATMs and elevator buttons, public restrooms, toilets, sinks, common door handles, bus and escalators, restaurant tables, etc…
The list could go on forever.
Dr. Bob Rothstein the Medical Director at Suburban Hospital in Maryland says, “When you’re at the office, think about all the things you share with your co-workers that may be contaminated – the restroom, the door knob, the microwave, the refrigerator, the communal coffee maker. And don’t forget the fax machine, the printer, your keyboard, your telephone. And if you sneeze in an environment like this, you can infect everyone.”
So why is it so much worse this year than last?
Doctors say the virus appears to mutate:
Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC Director, says “… and as we get one type of immunity it will change and develop another kind of flu virus that can easier to spread and potentially more serious.”
This mutating flu is still spreading fast.
Here in Oklahoma, if you’re wondering, health departments offer free vaccines to the elderly or low-income residents. Most private insurance will cover the flu shot for free.
Tom Costello, NBC News.