By Marian Baker, Staff Writer
As the cold weather finally sets in, so does something else: flu season. You may have been hearing this advice since October when this season’s vaccine became available, but I will repeat it once more: get your flu shot.
No one wants to get the flu, but despite this a huge number of us never get our seasonal flu shots. A lot of people wonder if they even need to get a flu shot as most people believe themselves to be reasonably healthy. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over the age of six months get a flu shot. Even if you are healthy, your friends, fellow students, professors, relatives or even favorite DH workers may not be. They may have asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer or other conditions that leave them especially susceptible to the flu and its complications. Getting vaccinated prevents you from not only catching the flu, but also from spreading it. This is especially important for people who are unable to be vaccinated due to medical reasons.
You may also be wondering if it is too late to get your flu shot, but it is never too late. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the peak of flu season actually occurs in February. However, this does not mean you should procrastinate either: seasonal outbreaks can happen as early as October, so it is best to get it sooner.
Unless there is a specific health reason for you to avoid the vaccine, such as an egg allergy, you should be getting your shot each year. Influenza is nothing to mess around with, and while it is treatable, you do not want to be taken down in the midst of finals—or at all—by something that is preventable by a simple vaccination.
There are many ways for you to get your flu shot, and most are quite accessible and easy, so there is no excuse. Flu shots are available at most pharmacies, including the CVS and Walgreens just down the road from campus. Furthermore, if you get the vaccine from a nurse practitioner, such as the one who operates the MinuteClinic, or a doctor, it is also free under most healthcare plans. Check with your healthcare provider to see if you are eligible for a free vaccination. Alternatively, if you are a local, you can also receive a flu shot if you visit your general practitioner.
You can also get your flu shot right here on campus. Student Health Services, also known as the Infirmary, offers flu shots for $20, which is less expensive than at most pharmacies. Student Health Services is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, during which time you can go to receive a flu shot, though they recommend coming during off-peak hours, such as before 9:30 a.m. or after 4 p.m. This option is great because you do not need a car or even health insurance; the Infirmary will even bill you later. Scheduling an appointment is unnecessary.
And the best part? Afterwards, you can bask in the newfound peace of mind that you will not get the flu this year.