The winter months are finally here, along with the arrival of the notorious flu season. Fortunately, Colorado State University students can combat this contagious virus with a flu shot from the CSU Hartshorn Health Center.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, influenza is a disease that spreads around the United States every winter. The flu is caused by the influenza virus that is spread mainly by coughing, sneezing and close contact with others. The HHS also states that the flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu and its complications, as well as the fast spread of the virus.
Some symptoms of the flu include experiencing a fever or chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache, or a stuffy or runny nose. Despite children and adults over 65 posing the largest risk for catching it, students are not in the clear, especially with college environments providing close contact and high opportunity for germs and other viruses to spread quickly. In addition, those in contact with people more likely to get influenza are also at risk themselves.
If students choose to get the flu vaccine, it will likely be either injected by needle or sprayed into the nose. It is advised not to get the vaccine if the patient has severe, life-threatening allergies, has or has had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness) or if they are not feeling well.
Although the vaccine cannot prevent all cases of the flu, it is a defense against the disease.
“The flu shot only protects you against influenza,” said Jane Higgins M.D., who is a part of the Colorado State University Health Network. “There are many other viruses circulating, especially at wintertime, and the flu shot is not going to protect against those.”
Higgins emphasized the quick spread of the virus, and some of the detrimental effects of it.
“It is quite contagious … incubation period can be as quick as one to three days, so it spreads fast,” Higgins said. “None of us want to be sick. Anyone who has had influenza remembers that it’s nasty, and it puts you out of commission for five to seven days.”
Higgins also encourages students to get a flu shot for their own academic successes.
“At this time of year, no one can afford to miss classes,” Higgins said. “It is a service to everyone else to not be communicable and spread it, especially with the holidays coming up.”
Megan Rankin, a freshman psychology major, got her flu shot two months ago when it became available.
“I did the injection and it’s not painful,” Rankin said. “It was fun.”
The Hartshorn Health Center provides the insurance-covered flu shot and nasal spray for students, and other local clinics and pharmacies such as Walgreens and Safeway offer the flu shot as well.
Collegian Reporter Clarissa Davies can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DaviesClarissa.