Manufacturers have sent out between 135 million and 139 million doses of flu vaccines for the 2013-2014 U.S. flu season, according to the Center for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) website.
“Yearly flu shots are recommended for everyone by the CDC,” Jean Swearingen, medical director at Student Health Services, said.
“Flu can cause loss of work or school time, can lead to secondary illnesses like pneumonia and can be fatal in some cases.”
The CDC website says everyone six months of age and older should receive a yearly flu vaccination by the month of October.
“Influenza usually causes high fevers, body aches, dry cough and fatigue. The length of the illness, the severity and exact symptoms vary depending on the patient and the particular flu strain,” Swearingen said.
An individual with the flu may feel sick for several days to a couple of weeks, she added.
Influenza being a serious problem in our area varies year to year, Swearingen said.
“It may depend on the particular strain and how many people have been immunized,” she said.
Swearingen said there are several different injection forms of the influenza vaccine as well as a nasal form.
“Most people are just fine with the ‘regular’ shot,” she added.
It is better to get the vaccination early, but it can be given until around March, she said.
The supply often runs out, so Swearingen recommends getting the shot before December.
The flu shot stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies against the influenza virus, Swearingen explained.
“So if you are exposed to the virus later, your body will be ready to fight it off,” she added.
Student Health Services offers the flu shot free of charge to students, Swearingen said.
“If you do get the flu, stay away from others, wash your hands frequently, cover your cough, rest and drink fluids,” she said.
“Medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help with fever and body aches,” she added.
To schedule an appointment to get an influenza vaccination, visit the Student Health Services website.