With the COVID-19, pandemic still running heavily through the nation, experts are urging citizens now more than ever to get their yearly flu vaccine, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a respiratory illness that can have a range of symptoms. Some cases can be more severe than others, especially for older citizens, young children and those with underlying health conditions.
“If, in fact, and I hope it isn’t the case, we have significant COVID-19 activity as we go into the fall and winter season, that will be problematic and complicate things because that’s two respiratory infections circulating together,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with MarketWatch in August. “[This] is one of the reasons we’re telling people that when the flu vaccine becomes available, make sure you get vaccinated so that you could at least blunt the effect of one of those two potential respiratory infections.”
The flu is a year-round virus. However, flu season, or the period in which the infection rate spikes, is commonly between Dec.and Feb. each year, according to the CDC.
The virus spreads by person-to-person contact, much like COVID-19. According to the CDC, the flu virus travels through respirtatory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
The flu also has the ability to live on surfaces. If someone touches a surface that has the flu virus on it, then touches their eyes, mouth or nose, there is a small chance they may catch the virus.
The flu is most contagious three to four days after the infected person becomes sick. However, the contagion period can last for up to seven days, according to the CDC.
“That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick,” according to the CDC website. “Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those people may still spread the virus to others.”
Common flu symptoms can be, but not limited to, fever and chills, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffed nose, muscle and body aches, fatigue, headaches and vomiting and/or diarrhea. According to the CDC, the last two listed symptoms are more common in children, though adults may still experience them.
More serious complications that can derive from the flu virus are pneumonia, inflammation in the heart, brain and muscle tissue, multi-organ failure and in dire cases, sepsis, which is the body’s life-threatening reaction to an infection. People with underlying conditions such as asthma or heart disease may experience worse conditions if infected with the flu.
The CDC urges people to seek medical attention if they have any of the following symptoms:
· Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
· Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
· Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
· Not urinating
· Severe muscle pain
· Severe weakness or unsteadiness
· Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
· Worsening of chronic medical conditions
VSU’s Student Health Center is currently offering the flu vaccination to students. All accepted insurance will cover the cost, but if a student has no insurance, the cost of the vaccine is $10.
Walk-in hours for the flu vaccine are Monday through Thursday, 8-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m, and on Friday from 8-11 a.m.
Students can schedule appointments with the Student Health Center by calling 229-219-3200, going to the Health Center, or online.
More information on scheduling appointments, arrival times and cancellation policies can be found at https://www.valdosta.edu/administration/student-affairs/student-health/areas/appointments.php.
Written by Bailey Storey, Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of Flickr.