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