The importance of the flu shot during flu season


The Appalachian Online

Lauren Merrill

October marks the beginning of a lot of wonderful things: Fall, Halloween, the holiday season and a lot of much needed school breaks. October, however, marks the beginning of something else that is not so fun: The flu.

With almost 17,000 on-campus students attending App, germs are bound to spread. The flu can become airborne through coughing or sneezing and can be contracted that way, or it can be contracted by touching a surface containing the virus and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Although you can wash your hands or use a lot of Germ-X, there is no guarantee that those methods will prevent you from getting the flu. Your best bet is to go ahead and get the flu shot.

The flu shot can reduce a person’s likelihood of getting the flu by 70 to 90 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are three types of flu viruses: A, B and C. Types A and B are the common sniffling, coughing and aching types of flu that are known to infect 20 percent of the population. Type C flu symptoms are somewhat similar to A and B, but is far less severe.

No matter what type of flu, it is important to try to prevent it in any way that you can. There are a few flu vaccine options that are available. There is the flu shot that is usually injected into the arm, and there is also a nasal spray. The nasal spray works the same as the shot in the way of putting a weak virus into your system. The nasal spray is also preferable for people who may not like shots.

The way the flu shot works is that a dead version of the virus, in this case influenza, is injected into your system so your body learns how to fight back and basically builds immunity to the flu. On average, between 5 and 20 percent of Americans will get the flu each year.

Although the flu does not affect everyone in the same way, some flu cases can lead to hospitalization or even death. Between 1999 and now, the average calculated deaths each year have been between 30,000 and 40,000.

But don’t be alarmed, the people that the flu affects the most are children under the age of five,  people ages 65 or older, women who are pregnant, people with medical conditions, and people who are considered overweight. All of these people have an immune system that is not strong enough or is changing and makes them more vulnerable to the virus.

The common symptoms of the flu are: Coughing, sore throat, sneezing, fever, chills, aches, nausea or vomiting.

If you start to feel yourself get any of these symptoms, it would be to good to go  a doctor right away to see if it is the flu and what you should do.

My best advice to you if you get some or all of these symptoms would be to get a hot drink, cuddle up with your favorite blanket, put on your favorite TV show, get medicine that knocks out these symptoms and most important, get a lot of rest.

With so many potential virus hosts walking around campus, your best bet is to get the flu shot early to try and eliminate your risks of becoming bed ridden.

Merrill, a sophomore journalism major from Chapel Hill, is an opinion writer.