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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Health

Flu vaccinations available


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Medical assistant Kenya Williams provides flu vaccinations not only for students but for faculty and staff as well, including Dr. Scott Spear, executive director and chief physician of the Student Health Center. | Monica Tso/The Daily Cougar

Fever, chills, body aches, fatigue, sore throat — flu season is right around the corner. With the hectic schedules of most Cougars, getting the flu is not an option.

The flu vaccine is now available at the University Health Center for students as well as faculty. Flu season is typically from November to April, and the UHC is encouraging students to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“The annual flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get the flu,” said Jennifer Nguyen, chief nurse at the UHC. “Students should keep in mind that it takes two weeks to build up immunity in the body after the vaccine has been administered.”

Nguyen said in an average year, the flu causes 36,000 deaths and more than 200,000 hospitalizations in the United States She sees about five to 10 student cases per week during peak flu season and said students should be aware of how easily the virus spreads.

“Flu viruses are spread through droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs,” Nguyen said. “It also spreads by (a person) touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it, then touching the eyes, mouth or nose.”

The best way to prevent the virus from spreading is to cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing, wash hands often with anti-bacterial hand soap, and avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth.

The influenza vaccine contains antigens representing three or four influenza virus strains for the current season. The vaccine is grown by manufacturers in fertilized chicken eggs. People with severe allergies to chicken eggs should consult with a doctor prior to getting vaccinated.

Dietetics freshman  Sarah Cowan-bitz  makes a point to get the flu shot every year and feels it is important for all students to get vaccinated.

“I have had the flu before, and it isn’t fun,” Cowan-bitz said. “Even if I get the shot, I might get a little sick, but if I didn’t get the shot, it would be much worse.”

Not all students get the flu shot. Theater senior Caleb Travis said he has never had a flu shot and prefers a more natural method of flu prevention.

“When I feel myself starting to get a scratchy throat, I take bee propolis,” Travis said. “It is a natural supplement made from bee honey. I have used it for years and haven’t gotten sick as long as I’ve been taking it.”

The vaccine is available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday at the UHC for $25.

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