Influenza A brings whole family down

SAAC members promote a positive student-athlete image on campus

Amanda Demilt

Antelope Staff


Two years ago, on a rather warm Thursday in Nov.I picked up my oldest son, Lane, from school at Shelton Elementary school. Lane is never sick and prides himself on never missing school. This time, however, when he climbed into my car I knew there was something off. He didn’t look or act like the spunky little boy I know and love. 

Immediately I asked him what was wrong. “I have a bad headache and the school secretary wouldn’t let me call you to come get me,” Lane said. 

I drove him home. He tossed his backpack on a kitchen chair and asked if he could wait until later to complete his homework. The warning light came on, as Lane is not a procrastinator. I told him his homework could wait a little while. He crept to his bedroom, crawled into bed and went to sleep. Three hours later he emerged from his bedroom.

He was covered in sweat and shivering badly. Like every good mother I felt his forehead for the warmth of a fever. He was burning up and still complaining of a headache, so I took his temperature. The thermometer read 102°. I gave him some Tylenol to help with the headache and hopefully reduce the fever. By 7 a.m. Friday morning he was coughing so hard he would throw up and was complaining that he was sore everywhere. 

I took the day off from work and took him to the doctor.

With his symptoms, the doctor was certain Lane had Influenza A. Before they could give him a prescription for Tamiflu, they had to test him. As a mother it was extremely painful to watch the nurse do a nasal swab. They use this long thin cotton swab-looking contraption and shove it as far into to the nasal cavity as possible. If it were painful for me to watch, I could only imagine the discomfort he felt, because he immediately started crying. The test was positive and off to the pharmacy we went.

A month prior to Lane coming down with the flu, my younger son and I had been at the doctor’s office for his well child check-up. While we were there, the doctor asked if we would like the influenza vaccination. 

I answered yes, and we were vaccinated right there. My husband and the boys’ father received his flu vaccination through his work. That year the only person in the household without the flu vaccination was Lane. I had meant to get him to the doctor for his vaccination but procrastinated and then it was too late. 

Friday night we were back at the doctor’s office with my youngest son. Even after being vaccinated he tested positive for Influenza A as well. Lane was out of school for a week with the flu. Thankfully, my youngest son did not come down with the flu as severely as his bother. 

By the time Saturday arrived my husband was down for the count and after taking care of all three of them for a few days.  

My turn came Sunday morning, when I was in so much pain I could hardly move. My husband and I and our youngest son bounced back after a few days. It was a long week before Lane returned to normal. 

Guessing game 

There are a couple of facts to consider about the flu shot. One, it is a guessing game as to which strain of influenza will attack people’s immune systems. The scientists who create the flu vaccination every year can only take their best guess. 

Two, new versions of the flu vaccine must be created at least twice a year. The virus that causes the flu mutates or changes very quickly.

I feel as though the vaccine helped somewhat with protecting my husband, our youngest son and me. My only regret is that I procrastinated and hadn’t had Lane vaccinated. Knowing what I know now, every year my entire family is vaccinated. In the two flu seasons since, Lane has not contracted influenza again. 

Virus lurks, spreads

It is my strong opinion that Lane caught the virus at school and it spread to the remainder of the family in a short time because it is so contagious. I feel as though most illnesses are brought home from places such as school, daycare or other high traffic public areas including the waiting room of the doctor’s office. 

Practice germ control

Other than the vaccine, there are many ways to protect yourself from the spread of germs. Lysol wipes and Purex are great for killing viruses and germs. People should use the crook of their elbow to cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing and always wash their hands afterward.

Speaking from someone who has been there, the influenza is no joking matter and if possible anyone with the opportunity to get the flu shot should get it. Each health care provider is different, as is insurance. Some provide the flu vaccination for free while others require a copay. The difference is it is cheaper to get the flu shot than to get the flu. 

Shot cheaper than 

There will be the cost of the doctor’s visit and the expensive prescription for Tamiflu. There is also the possibility of missed class and work. Most professors and employers will require a doctor’s note to miss class or work to be an excused absence. So, staying home in bed will not be an option; you will be required to go to and pay for the doctor’s visit. 

This is college. It is not elementary school or the grocery store. However, it is extremely public and there are thousands of people together in one place. The likeliness of the flu spreading through campus is high. Should you decide to forego the vaccination, you should visit the doctor at the first signs or symptoms of the flu. The sooner you visit the doctor the more likely it will be that you can be on the road to recovery.