Roll up your Sleeve:
Flu Shots are on the Way!
By Kirsten Falcone, RN
If you have not received your flu shot yet, here’s good news! There are two dates approaching on which you may be able to attain your flu vaccine on campus in the West Herr Atrium. Mark your calendar for:
Wednesday, October 12 from 10:00 a.m. to noon, or
Wednesday, November 2 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Here is what you need to know about the flu vaccine:
What is the flu? Influenza (flu) is a contagious infection that spreads most easily each year from October to May (flu season). The flu is caused by a virus and is spread by coughing, sneezing and personal contact. Everyone is susceptible to the flu virus, but symptoms can vary by age and immunity status. Typical symptoms are fever with chills, sore throat, achy muscles, unexplained fatigue, coughing, headache and a runny or stuffy nose.
The flu causes thousands of deaths in the United States every year. Many more are hospitalized. Most of these people are immunity challenged, such as infants and young people, people 65 and older, pregnant women, and others with compromised immune systems.
How can I prevent contracting the flu? Even if you are not immunity challenged, one of the best ways to stop the virus from spreading is by attaining a flu vaccine. A flu vaccine can also keep you from contracting the flu, or it may help make your symptoms less severe. Because there is no “live virus” in the vaccine, a flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. (As always, remember hand-washing is the ultimate way for you to prevent the spread of viruses.)
Can I still get the flu if I get a flu vaccine? Yes. A flu vaccine contains only those strains of the virus thought to be most prevalent for the year in question. This year the flu vaccine offered on campus will be “trivalent,” meaning it will protect against three common flu strains. It is possible to contract a rarer strain of the virus. Also, because the vaccine takes approximately two weeks to become effective, you may still become sick within that two-week window of time. However, once immunity has been established, you will be protected for the entire flu season.
There are illnesses that look like flu, but are actually other illnesses. This may explain why some people have claimed that the flu vaccine caused them to contract the flu. This is really not the case.
Should some people forgo the flu vaccine? Yes. People with egg allergies, people who have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or someone not feeling well should not get the vaccine.
For otherwise healthy people, side effects of the flu vaccine can be rare or mild. But, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), they may include skin soreness around the area of the vaccination; hoarseness; itchy, sore, red eyes; cough; muscle aches; fever; itching; fatigue; and headaches. These mild effects usually last one or two days, but they are a much better alternative than contracting full-blown influenza. Most health professionals agree that the flu vaccine is a worthy effort in keeping healthy through the winter months. So go ahead and roll up your sleeve!
For more information, visit these Web sites:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)