Flu Season is Nothing to Sneeze At!

This article was previously published in the University of Texas Shorthorn Community Voices section.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the flu season is soon to be upon us all here in Texas. We’ve already had the back to school strep, the quarter term creeping crud, and the terrible allergies we all get here in Texas. Now I don’t mean for this to sound like the flu is lurking around every corner, but you really should be prepared to not get sick. Especially when being prepared is so easy too, just get yourself a flu shot; I know I did.

Before you run out to get your flu shot, you likely have questions. What’s in it? The flu shot is an inactivated influenza virus; which means it’s killed by a method like heat, it’s not alive. What does it do? The flu shot is an instruction set for your body about what’s good or bad, or in this case what will make you sick or not sick. To use an example most everyone will understand, not having the flu vaccine is a lot like not having an antivirus program on your computer. It may seem like a good idea at the time, at least until you get a virus that deletes your hard drive, changes your password, and messes your computer. Let me tell you that flu can get that bad, I’ve been there. One year I had it and then a week later contracted pneumonia during final exams; I didn’t have the flu shot.

WHOPHL45_small
Graph courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm

I do want to point out that even with the shot, you could still get the flu, but it’s pretty uncommon. If this happens, be sure to see your doctor or go to an urgent care if it’s outside of normal office hours. My purpose here isn’t to scare you but make you think about taking care of yourself. No one likes being sick, and especially no one likes having the flu! To get your shot, you can contact your doctor and often they’ll have walk-in appointments and the shots are usually $25 or free, depending on your insurance.

Sure, might be a little tired, sore or a bit achy afterward. But that’s normal! It’s your body saying, “Hey we’ve got new instructions, it’s going to take a while to process, so sit tight. We’ll get everything back to normal ASAP.” If you have any other questions, check out the CDC’s web resources ( https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm), or ask your doctor.

 

Published by Elayne Otstot (public health girl)

Graduate of the UT Arlington B.S. in Public Health inaugural cohort and member of Loyola Law School's Coelho Center Fellowship. I address public health and health policy issues in an easy to understand format on my blog Public Health Girl.

%d bloggers like this: