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Have you had your flu shot?

by Rose McKenney, S & E editor

Cough, cough, sneeze, sniffle, hack! Sounds like the student sitting two seats behind you might have caught the flu. And it couldn’t be at a worst time; finals are just around the corner.

 

 

It’s time to think about getting a flu shot.

Influenza, “flu,” is a contagious disease caused by a virus that infects the throat and nose. Symptoms include fever, coughing, sore throat, headache, chills, and muscle aches.

People who catch the flu are usually sick for a couple of days, but some get sicker and must be hospitalized. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “flu causes about 36,000 deaths a year in the United States, mostly among the elderly.”

Also according to CDC, so the flu season peaks in winter, so a December shot will protect in the most dangerous season.

The flu shot is an inactivated influenza vaccine, according to the CDC. Since the flu virus mutates often, the vaccine is updated every year, and a yearly flu shot is necessary.. There is still a chance, after getting the vaccine, to get a minor case of the flu, but it’s usually milder than that experienced by those who choose not to get the vaccine. According to the CDC, it should take about two weeks before the vaccine takes effect and for the protection to be developed. Protection against the flu can last up to a year.

Annual flu shots are recommended for everyone over the age of 50 and everyone who has a long-term health problem such as lung or kidney disease or asthma. Also, anyone with a weakened immune system – people with HIV, AIDS, or cancer--should get an annual flu shot. Pregnant women and healthy children from 6 to 23 months, and their caretakers; physicians, nurses, and anyone who could come into close contact with anyone at risk of a serious flu should get a flu shot.

So should students. Anyone living in dormitories or in crowded conditions or attending class in crowded classrooms should get a flu shot. It’s easy to catch the flu when around many others. It’s like the domino effect: once one person gets the flu, it’s only a matter of time before everyone starts catching it.

So, be on the safe side get a flu shot.

Editor’s note: The CDC suggests that anyone who is feverish or seriously ill on the day a flu shot is scheduled should reschedule until after they recover.

For more information call the CDC at 1-800-232-2522, or visit www.cc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluvirus.htm.

 

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