CSU Health Network encourages flu shots, debunks myths

Ceci Taylor

As flu season approaches amidst the pandemic, Colorado State University Health Network is encouraging everyone to get a flu shot. 

Kate Hagdorn, associate director of communications at the CSU Health Network, said it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot this year. 

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“Flu shots are the best way to protect yourself and protect others from flu viruses,” Hagdorn said. “So while the flu vaccine won’t prevent COVID-19, it has been shown to reduce the burden of flu illnesses, so it can help reduce time missed at work or time missed for school.”

Hagdorn also said that it is possible to get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. 

“The best thing to do is just get your flu shot when you’re able to, but we’re really trying to emphasize as many people as possible to get their flu shot before Halloween.”-Kate Hagdorn, associate director of communications at the CSU Health Network

“There’s limited data that suggests that that would increase your risk of hospitalization,” Hagdorn said. “Because we haven’t really encountered a flu season yet at the same time as COVID-19, that data is still being developed. But it certainly increases your risk factors if you contract both viruses at the same time.”

The article “Flu Vaccination Urged During COVID-19 Pandemic” by Mary Chris Jaklevic discusses the concerns about people deciding not to get the flu shot, despite urges from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to do so. 

“Misinformation is (a) looming concern,” Jaklevic wrote. “A false claim that flu vaccines increase the odds of contracting COVID-19 was promoted on social media, based on an erroneous interpretation of a 2019 military study that examined whether individuals who received flu vaccinations are more susceptible to other viruses.”

Jaklevic also wrote that “COVID-19 precautions such as social distancing and hand washing might lead people to think they aren’t susceptible to the flu.” 

Hagdorn said it’s a common myth that getting the flu vaccine could give one the flu itself and encouraged students to get the vaccine for that extra layer of protection. 

“Flu vaccines that we commonly give through a shot are made with an inactive virus or only a single protein from the virus,” Hagdorn said. “So it’s not possible that the flu shots can actually give you the flu.”

According to the CDC website, even the nasal spray vaccine cannot cause illness as it contains a live virus that is weakened.

The CDC website also says that there are multiple reasons why someone might still get the flu after getting the flu shot, but it is not from the flu vaccine itself. 

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“It is possible to be exposed to flu viruses, which cause flu, shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two-week period after vaccination that it takes the body to develop immune protection,” the website reads. “This exposure may result in a person becoming ill with flu before protection from vaccination takes effect.”

The website also says that one may experience flu symptoms after getting the vaccine because they may have been exposed to a flu virus that is different from the virus the vaccine was meant to protect against.

The website also says flu vaccines can vary in how well they work, as everyone is different and people may still get other illnesses, such as rhinoviruses, which the vaccine will not protect against. 

Hagdorn said the best time to get the flu shot is in October, but it is not too late to get the vaccine in November or December. 

“The CDC and the Larimer County Health Department are recommending everyone who is able to get their flu shot before Halloween,” Hagdorn said. “That just ensures that you’re protected before the seasonal flu arrives in our community.”

Hagdorn said that flu vaccines are available at clinics all across the community, including the CSU Health and Medical Center. Hagdorn also said flu shots are covered by most health insurance plans. 

“It’s always a good idea to check with your health plan in advance so you don’t have surprises about costs,” Hagdorn said. “But for most health plans, it’s a covered benefit, meaning no additional out-of-pocket cost for students to get their flu shot.”

Hagdorn said the student health insurance plan provided through CSU also covers the flu shot for students. Hagdorn said there are many opportunities for University students to get their flu shots this year, but the Health Network is requiring appointments. 

“In previous years we have not required appointments,” Hagdorn said. “We’ve just encouraged students to walk in whenever it’s convenient for them. But this year, due to enhanced public health guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are requiring students to have an appointment for their flu shot.”

Hagdorn said students just need to call 970-491-7121 to make their appointment. She said the Health Network has designated flu shot clinics every Wednesday afternoon and every Thursday morning throughout October.

Hagdorn said that if those times don’t work, other appointments can be made as well. 

“The best thing to do is just get your flu shot when you’re able to, but we’re really trying to emphasize as many people as possible to get their flu shot before Halloween,” Hagdorn said. 

Ceci Taylor can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @cecelia_twt.