Flu shot 48 percent effective rate this year leads to several Coppell High School absences


Kelly Wei

During flu season, it is important to stay healthy, keep away from illness and educate oneself on the influenza. Approximately 164 million school days are missed each year for students in kindergarten to 12th graders in the United States due to sickness.

Just like the game of “tag”, the flu virus is passed on by touch, annually plaguing the nation during the months between October and March.


An initially congested nose, blocked and popping ears and cough may first seem like annual allergy symptoms but soon transform into body aches, chills, fever and sure flu symptoms.


Now bedridden for upto a week, fatigued and behind in school work, it can be difficult to catch up with sickness interfering with the learning process.


This is a situation many students find themselves in across the CHS campus annually but especially this season.


“Everyone wants to come to when they are sick and that affects their schoolwork because they can’t concentrate as well, they’ve got a headache, they are tired, exhausted, achy and feel horrible so I can imagine that studying for a test and homework is more difficult,” CHS nurse Beth Dorn said.


Students in AP (Advanced Placement) and IB (International Baccalaureate) classes with a high level of competition and intense workload may feel tempted to come to school despite flu-like symptoms.


“I understand why people don’t want to miss school but at the same time, if you are at school and you are sick, guess what? You get everybody else sick,” Dorn said.


It does not take long for the virus to spread with each student coming in contact with so many peers in a school with an enrollment more than 3,000.


“I just felt really behind and out of place almost because I didn’t know what was happening,” said junior IB student Shruti Vellaturi, who recovered from the flu this year. “I missed so much information, I was constantly catching up.”


The situation this year was made worse with this flu season being dominated by influenza A, a more potent form of the flu.


The CDC announced that this year’s strains in the flu shot have an overall effectiveness of 48 percent, while they typically have a 60 percent effective rate.


“The whole month of February, we have seen a big increase in fevers, sore throats, achiness,” Dorn said. “Over 100 degree temperatures we have to send [students] home so we are seeing such a spike in that for the past two to three weeks.”


Other recommendations to minimize the risk of contracting the flu include staying away from sick people, practicing good hygiene and not touching your nose, mouth or ears often.


Per Coppell ISD rules, students with a fever of 100 degrees or more have to leave school and go home that day.


In order to return to school, students must be fever free for 24 hours without the aid of Tylenol, Motrin or other fever reducing medication.


“I hear from the students quite often that they don’t want to miss school because it puts them so far behind and then it snowballs,” Dorn said.


Approximately 164 million school days are missed each year for students in kindergarten to 12th graders in the United States due to sickness.  


Attendance is also directly linked to school reimbursement making it necessary for the district hold students accountable to attending their classes.


This motivation can also work counterproductively with sick students attending school to maintain their exemption status.


Incentives such as gaining exception status from semester exams have been established by CHS to encourage regular attendance.


Students may be exempt from their second semester exams if they do not have more than three absences or four tardies for a class and their semester grade average is equal or above an 85 per the CHS handbook.


Students may even qualify for exemption status their first semester of senior year and students always have the option of taking the test to better their grade.
Being late-February, it is a little too late to get the injectable flu shot but for next year, it will be available starting from September.