The rampant sneezing and coughing heard around campus indicates flu season is upon us. This season’s influenza vaccine will not only protect against swine flu and two other flu strains, according to the Centers For Disease Control.
The peak for the flu season in the United States is from late November to March.
People will only need to get one shot to be protected for the upcoming flu season. Previously, recipients were required to obtain a separate vaccination for the swine flu.
Now that there is only one shot people should become vaccinated as soon as possible, said Donna Starke, an advance registered nurse practitioner at the Florida A&M Student Service Center.
“Receiving the shot early is important because it takes two weeks for the vaccine to actually work through your system,” said Starke. “From there, your body will be protected for at least a year.”
The flu, a highly contagious respiratory illness, usually produces only mild effects. Young children, the elderly and adults with certain health conditions, however, may experience more severe symptoms that can lead to death. Research conducted by the CDC last year estimated about 40,000 deaths in the United States due to complications related to the flu virus.
Starke said proper nutrition and hygiene can also contribute to helping prevent the flu.
“Prevention is key to keeping your immune system safe,” said Starke. “Washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough, eating healthy and taking your daily vitamins will help with prevention.”
Vaccines are available at the Student Service Center and while there are currently only 500 shots available, Starke said the center will get more vaccinations if needed.
“The flu shot can help prevent a lot of illness, and a lot of students are not aware of the impact they can play by keeping themselves healthy,” said Don’Nita Graham, a senior nursing student.
Letoya Jackson, also a nursing student, said while students with healthy immune systems are unlikely to fall severely ill due to the virus, infected students are likely to spread the illness to those who are more vulnerable.
Although the CDC projected the current flu season to be less brutal than the previous one, it released a report called the flu virus “unpredictable.”
Each year, the virus’ genetic coding mutates, which can cause the available vaccination to be inadequate. The effectiveness of the vaccine, therefore, depends on whether the virus has mutated and become resistant.
For more information regarding flu vaccines, access the CDC website at www.cdc.gov.