Coughing, sore throat, fever and an aching head. Sound familiar? These are the common symptoms of the flu. This time of year is not just the holiday season; it is also the flu season. So the question on people’s minds is, “should I get vaccinated?”
The flu, or influenza, is a virus that infects the body and causes mild to severe symptoms. There are different types of the virus that can spread easily from person to person. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated. After vaccination it takes about two weeks for the body to develop immunity to the virus.
People who have had the flu know it is not fun. It can last anywhere from a couple days up to two weeks. The flu is highly contagious, especially for people who have weak immune systems. Vaccination happens through a shot that is administered into the skin; there is also a nasal spray flu vaccine available for healthy adults.
So, who is at risk? Everyone. This virus can be in the system and contagious up to a day before people start showing symptoms. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the people who have the highest risk of getting the flu and having the worst symptoms are pregnant women, children under five, adults over 65 and people with existing health conditions, such as diabetes and asthma.
College students are at a high risk as well. Lack of sleep and a poor diet is common among college students, and that can lead to a weaker immune system. Colleges have thousands of students on campus at any given time. Being in close quarters with others put you at risk for catching and spreading the flu.
People who should not get the flu shot, according to the CDC, are children under six months and people who have allergic reactions to the influenza vaccine. Also, if a person is sick already they should wait until they get better before being vaccinated. People with egg allergies might be at risk because the vaccine does contain small amounts of egg protein.
There is also a chance that you will still get the flu even after the vaccine. Common side effects of the flu shot are headaches, soreness and fever.
The CDC offers six tips for preventing the flu this season:
1. Avoid close contact; especially with people showing signs of illness.
2. Stay home when you are sick– that will help prevent others from getting sick.
3. Cover your mouth and nose– when sneezing or coughing cover with a tissue to help prevent germs from being spread.
4. Clean your hands– washing your hands frequently and thoroughly will help protect from germs. Hand sanitizers are also good to have on hand.
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth– touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching yourself puts you at risk for catching the virus.
6. Practice other good health habits– disinfect and clean your home often, eat healthy foods, stay hydrated and get enough rest.
There are several places in your community to get vaccinated. Fullerton College Health Services is offering the flu vaccine Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. – 12 noon and 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.; and Fridays from 9 a.m. – 12 noon. No appointment is necessary and the vaccine is free of charge for students and $20 for current faculty and staff.