Uhhhh not for long, she replied. The correct answer unfurls rather quickly.
Rather quickly, I had a fever of 102.
“This year is a nasty year,” said Dr. Arthur Caplan, the Director of Medical Ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center and an outspoken booster of the flu vaccine. Whereas some influenzas are hard to catch, H3N2 is "easier to transmit and it’s more aggressive, so it makes you sicker,” he explained.
To make matters worse, “the match between the flu vaccine and this circulating nasty strain of the flu is not great,” Caplan said, making it far less protective than most years. That doesn’t mean New Yorkers shouldn’t get it, the expert emphasized. “Twenty or thirty percent protection is better than zero,” and there’s evidence to suggest those who are inoculated suffer less when they do get infected.
Bronx mom Shanna Jervis is still kicking herself that she put off her kids’ shots.
“Every year I’ve gotten them the flu shot, they’ve never gotten sick like this,” she said of her 7-year-old twins, Zoe and Jude, who have each spent a week out of school with the flu and strep throat. The moment her son spiked a fever, “I told them to separate, don’t talk to each other, don’t look at each other.” Yet, within hours of taking her son to be seen, she was trekking back to the clinic with her daughter.
“As soon as my doctors found out my kids had the flu, they said you gotta take something,” Jervis said. “They said if you get the flu, you’ll be in the hospital.”
Jervis has multiple sclerosis, a disease that makes her especially vulnerable to complications from influenza. She and her children were prescribed oseltamivir (the generic name for Tamiflu), an antiviral that can make flu symptoms less severe. But doctors warn that the drugs only work when taken early -- generally within the first 48 hours -- and in her neighborhood, at least, they were on back order for a week or more. When she finally found some at a Rite Aid, the pharmacy chain explained they no longer took her children’s insurance, demanding $300 out of pocket per course.
“It was like crack on the street,” she said of the drug. “Crack is easier to get than Tamiflu.”