“I never get sick… I do not need the flu shot”

Are these your thoughts when asked if you will get the flu shot this year?

Everyone’s immune system works differently so some people get sick more often than others. Just because you “never” get sick does not mean you are invincible from getting the flu. Influenza is spread by respiratory droplets (from sneezing, coughing, or even just talking) which can directly or indirectly be spread from person to person. If an infected person sneezes and then touches a door handle, you are at risk of getting infected just from touching that same door handle. All it takes is one infected individual on campus to be able to spread it to many, many others.

 

Why should you get vaccinated against the flu?

Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. Each flu season is different, and influenza can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year. Of those millions, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual influenza vaccine is the best way to help protect yourself and others against the flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

 

How do flu vaccines work?

The flu vaccine contains dead strains of the influenza virus. When vaccinated, these injected dead viruses cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. Therefore, if you are exposed to the flu later in the season, your immune system will be ready to defend you from getting infected with the virus. A lot of people claim that they get sick right after receiving the vaccine. It is scientifically impossible to get the flu from the vaccine since dead viruses are injected and it takes two weeks for your body to develop antibodies. The reason some people may feel flu-like symptoms after getting the vaccine is because your body’s immune system is triggered when injected with the vaccine but that is a risk with any vaccine you receive.

 

Who should get vaccinated this season?

Every person over the age of 6 months old should get a flu vaccine every season. The reason you need to get a vaccine every year is because each year, the strains of viruses are a little bit different. Therefore, a new vaccine is created each year to protect you against the projected strains of influenza for that given year.

 

 When should you get vaccinated?

You should receive your flu vaccine before the flu begins spreading in your community since it takes two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies necessary to protect you. The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October each year.

 

Where can you go to get vaccinated?

You can get your flu shot conveniently right on campus at the student health center! Flu shots are available at the pharmacy located on the ground floor. In addition, you can get your flu shot at your doctor’s office, clinics, health department, or at any retail pharmacy.

 

Lindsay M. Ecclestone, PharmD Candidate 

 

References

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm

 

Do I need a tetanus shot?

Tetanus is a problem with the nervous system. It is caused by bacteria. This bacteria releases a toxin that causes severe muscle contractions and can cause death. The disease has been called “lockjaw” because it can cause severe painful spasm of the muscles around the jaw.

The disease usually occurs after suffering a deep cut or puncture wound, or foreign body such as a splinter. Most people will develop symptoms within a week of injury. Treatment for the illness once symptoms begin is very difficult and intensive.

The good news is that this disease is preventable with immunizations. Most people have received a series of tetanus immunizations during childhood. Adults should get a tetanus booster every ten years. If you have a deep or dirty wound, it is likely your healthcare provider will recommend a booster if it has been longer than five years since your last booster.

Submitted by Matthew Peters, MD

It’s OK to use your sleeve

Growing up sleeves were a big no-no.  We weren’t supposed to use our sleeves to wipe our noses or our mouths.  We weren’t supposed to stretch out our sleeves. And we weren’t to use our sleeves as rags to wipe things down.  Sleeves were to be – well – sleeves.

The wiping of the nose thing – that’s still good advice, but our sleeves can serve a purpose other than being sleeves.  Sleeves are great for coughing and sneezing.  If you’re coughing/sneezing into your sleeve, you’re limiting the spread of germs into the air, protecting those around you.

Help There’s a Bat in My Room, What Should I do?

Bats can transmit the rabies disease

Here at Student Health Services things have been a bit batty.  We have had quite a few appointments related to bat exposures.  Why would someone schedule a doctor’s appointment if they have been exposed to a bat?  Bats can be carriers of rabies.  In fact, the CDC recommends that all persons with a bite, scratch, or mucous membrane exposure to a bat undergo rabies post exposure prophylaxis. 

Mucous membranes line the cavities that are exposed to the external environment and to internal organs.  Think nose, lips, eyelids, ears, etc.  If a bat were to land on you and touch your ear, for example, you might have a mucous membrane exposure.

If you woke up because a bat landed on you while you were sleeping of if you awakened and found a bat in your room, you have potentially been exposed.  The small teeth of a bat can make a bite difficult to find, so it’s better to be safe in these situations and assume exposure.

Of course, the best thing to do if you have been exposed to a bat is to safely capture the bat in question and have it submitted for rabies testing.  You can contact the Ohio State Veterinary hospital for more information.  If you are unable to capture the bat, then thoroughly wash the affected area with soap and water and schedule an appointment at Student Health Services or with your primary care physician.  They can then determine if rabies post exposure prophylaxis is needed.

Rabies post exposure prophylaxis involves four doses of rabies vaccine given on the day of the exposure and then again on days 3, 7, and 14.  The purpose is to prevent you from contracting rabies which is a very nasty and deadly virus.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Reviewed by Mary Jane Elam, MD