As the cold weather approaches, so does flu season — which, according to the Center for Disease Control, normally picks up around October and reaches its peak between January and March.
Influenza can cause mild to severe illness, with symptoms including fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches and fatigue. These symptoms can last from a few days to two weeks depending on the person’s current health condition.
Further, the flu can also cause a variety of complications such as ear infections, sinus infections and bronchitis. The flu can also lead to pneumonia — a potentially life-threating illness.
The CDC has indicated that it is important for people to protect themselves from the flu, especially people who are at high risk for the illness: the elderly, pregnant women and small children.
To prevent the flu, the CDC recommends everyone over the ages of 6 months to get the flu shot.
Terri Coffee, assistant professor in the nursing department at Youngstown State University, suggested that students should dress appropriately for the weather, wash their hands often and consider getting the flu shot.
“CDC recommends all students in college get the flu shot, especially with students being in elevators, classrooms and other crowded areas,” Coffee said.
Interviews with several students on campus, though, indicated that many are neither concerned about the upcoming flu season nor plan on getting the flu shot this year.
“I will not get the flu shot this year,” Shanelle Cook, a senior at YSU, said. “I have heard many myths that the flu shot gets you sick, and I also have witnessed those who have gotten the flu shot and became sick shortly after.”
Coffee said that Cook’s concerns are unwarranted.
“There is a myth that if you get the flu shot you will get sick; this is untrue, and the only documented side effect is soreness of the injection site,” Coffee said. “If you do get sick you were already sick before the flu shot was given.”
According to the CDC, once vaccinated with the flu shot, the body takes two weeks to develop antibodies that protect against the flu.
Jason Cruz, a freshman at YSU, does not get the flu shot due to an allergic reaction, but he recommends that all other students get it to prevent the flu.
“I have had the flu before and it was terrible; I knew I had the flu because I had body aches and pain. I was sick for at least a week,” Cruz said. “I believe though the flu shot is a good thing and, if you can get it, you should.”
The CDC recommends everyone get the flu shot as soon as it is available — which is normally in October — to prevent any run-ins with the flu.
YSU will be administering flu shots at the health-screening event, which is held at the Kilcawley Center in the Ohio Room, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 8, 9, 21 and 22.
CVS on Park Avenue will also be administering the flu shot from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sundays.
With most health insurance plans, the flu shot is free, but if you don’t have insurance, you will have to pay a fee of $31.99.