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The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

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Protect yourself and others with flu shot

As the lovely Cleveland winter approaches and increases difficulties for CWRU students, so does the seasonal flu. Every year we are bombarded with messages from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to get our flu shot. Why should students get their yearly flu shot?

“The flu virus mutates yearly which gives it the advantage to get around our immune system,” Irena Kenneley PhD, APRN-BC, CIC assistant professor and infectious disease guru explained.

We can counteract seasonal flu with the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is an injection of the dead flu virus, which allows our immune systems to recognize the virus and be able to defend our bodies quicker. But the use of the dead flu virus in vaccines leads to the common misconception; if you get the flu vaccine it will make you sick.

“The flu vaccine is a dead virus, which can’t get you sick” stated Kenneley.

Getting vaccinated now will not only help protect you from the three different flu viruses, but it will also help protect you through the winter. “The vaccine lasts for about 6 months which would cover you until May,” Kennely clarified. This is perfect because the peaks of flu outbreaks are December and January with occasional outbreaks in late March. Also, this year the flu vaccine includes 2 different seasonal flu viruses along with the H1N1 virus, so only one shot is necessary.

Health Services hosted vaccination clinics over the past two weeks. If you missed these opportunities don’t worry, you can always schedule an appointment at Health Services just to get a flu shot.

Since the virus is constantly mutating, everyone still is at risk for obtaining the virus. Even if you don’t actually become ill from the virus, you could assist in spreading it. You should always take precautions, which includes practicing effective hand hygiene. Purell is an effective way to cleanse the hands from the virus but soap and water is the best way. Also, avoid touching your face if you have not washed your hands recently and always sneeze or cough into your sleeve, not your hands.

As I have stated previously, you are not 100 percent safe from the flu with the vaccine so you need to know how the flu presents itself. If you wake up one morning with a runny nose, you feel tired and your stomach aches, don’t panic because it’s not the flu, it’s most likely the common cold. But if you wake up with those same symptoms plus muscle aches and a fever, then you most likely have the flu.

Now you know you have the flu, so what do you do next? Staying home and resting is a top priority. In doing so, you will prevent getting others sick and your recovery process will be faster. Make sure to drink plenty of water and don’t miss meals, as your body needs nutrients to heal itself. If this illness persists or your fever gets worse then go to Health Services and get help. Even if you’re unsure, go to health services because when it comes to your health there is never a point when you should question whether to ask for help or not.

Moral of the story, it is highly suggested you get your flu vaccine (unless you have an allergy to eggs, then in that case consult your family physician). Don’t let the myths fool you because the benefits outweigh the risks immensely and it can keep you from getting extremely ill and miserable.

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