SILVIA OAKLAND, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Flu season is here.
Also known as influenza, the flu is a contagious respiratory condition caused by an influenza virus and can result in serious hospitalization or death in some cases, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The flu virus, which can be confused with a common cold, is quite different.
“A common cold you can feel sick from, but usually influenza makes you feel much sicker,” Megan McMillin, physician’s assistant at Noah Health Clinic, said. “With influenza you would have a high fever, body aches along with coughing, congestion headaches and sore throat.” Healthcare professionals strongly advise students and the general public to receive a flu shot.
The flu vaccine is 40-60% effective in reducing the risk of contracting the flu, according to the CDC.
“I think the biggest myth is that it gives you the flu and that’s not true,” McMillin said. “People also confuse influenza for stomach flu. The flu shot that we give is for prevention of influenza which is completely different from the stomach flu with vomiting and diarrhea.”
There are many reasons why people get the flu shot. One is to protect others. “I get an annual flu shot to protect myself, family, colleagues and students from getting or transmitting the flu,” Dominique Cawley, senior lecturer in music and applied flute, said. “People with chronic health issues like asthma, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder], diabetes or those undergoing cancer treatments have weakened immune systems and can develop severe complications from the flu like pneumonia and bronchitis.”
However, some are unable to get the flu shot due to other personal illness reasons. Sadie Short, third-year secondary English education major, said she doesn’t get the flu shot because of it makes her sick, not with the flu, but her doctor recommended she doesn’t get the shot.
“By having others get a flu shot, it prevents me from getting sick and they don’t carry those germs which could cause me to be sick,” Short said. While getting a flu shot is an important factor in preventing the flu, there are other ways to prevent the flu from spreading.
Taking regular precautions, such as covering one’s mouth when coughing, frequent hand washing and staying away from those who have flu symptoms, can decrease the risk of contracting the flu.
“One of our Wartburg Choir members actually gave a devotion about the importance of getting the flu shot,” Kennedy Hiles, third-year Spanish and religion double major, said. “Flu shots are actually cheap and you can get them here on campus and you can feel good about yourself knowing you’re not going to get anyone else sick.”
If anyone contracts the flu virus, they are encouraged to stay home and avoid interacting with others as it is a contagious illness, according to McMillin.
“My first recommendation if you can go home for a few days, I would have you go home,” McMillin said. “If you can’t do that because of distance or any other reason, we have the students lay low in their rooms until the fever goes away.”
Students, faculty and staff can get a flu shot at the Noah Health Clinic by calling and making an appointment. Once arriving at Noah Clinic, students should bring a copy of their insurance card and student identification. Flu shots are also provided at pharmacies in the area or a doctor’s office.
“I would recommend everyone gets it because if you get influenza you are going to be very sick and probably miss an entire week of classes,” McMillin said. “ You feel really sick from it, there really isn’t a good treatment for you. You really just have to let it run its course and generally missing a week feels pretty stressful to students.”
For more information regarding the 2019 flu strand, go to cdc. gov/flu/.