As season worsens, doctors urge people to get flu shots

January 9, 2014 11:13 pm

Flu shot

Major institutions are gearing up for the possibility of a severe flu season in the weeks and months ahead.

San Jose Regional Medical Center says doctors there treated about 30 patients Wednesday in a tent set up in the parking lot. A hospital spokeswoman says another larger tent, able to treat more than a dozen patients at a time, should be completed by Friday. The spokeswoman says there hasn’t been a sudden rush of patients so far, but the hospital is preparing to treat a potential rush of flu patients as the season picks up steam. The hospital says the tents are a way to treat patients who don’t require hospitalization, and is a way to keep flu patients from spreading the virus to other patients.

Meanwhile, about 40 miles to the north, UC Berkeley’s Health Services Tang Center is preparing for an expected influx of flu patients. The hospital says it’s currently seeing seven to 10 flu patients a day.

“When flu actually hits that will probably double, and if it’s a really bad year it could triple,” said Pam Cameron, a public health expert for University Health Services.

The spring semester begins January 21st, and as students return to campus and move back into the dorms, apartments and houses, campus health experts expect flu to skyrocket.

“We are seeing some flu cases, you know, it’s still a relatively low volume compared to when the masses of students come back, but clearly the trend is on the up,” said Cameron.

Cameron encourages frequent hand washing, and other avoidance methods to prevent the flu, but says a vaccine is the best bet to ward off the virus.

Some students around Berkeley say they’ve heeded that advice.

“Actually, yeah,” said Ben Marchi-Hilton a Berkeley City College Student. “I got a vaccine about three weeks ago, just at Walgreens, went down there and got my flu shot. Very easy.”

Others say they haven’t gotten around to it yet.

“I’m a sociology graduate student, so we care a lot about social pressure,” said UC Berkeley Graduate student Tom Gilbert.  “They were pressuring each other into getting flu shots because if we don’t all get flu shots one person, the people who don’t, make us more susceptible to getting sick, and I did not.”