Now that autumn is here and winter is slowly approaching, flu season is beginning. While the virus usually starts in October or November, it tends to peak between December and February. However, the flu can last until May in the United States because, in actuality, the disease is unpredictable and can vary in timing throughout different parts of the country.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) it was estimated that during the 2017-2018 flu season, over 48 million Americans caught the virus. Amongst those, 959 thousand people were hospitalized from the flu with around 79.4 thousand deaths due to flu reported in the country. The majority of those affected did not receive the flu shot, as the flu shot reduces the chances by around 60 percent.
COURTESY OF CDC.GOV
It is recommended to get a flu shot every year around October to prevent the flu. Other ways to prevent the virus include washing hands with soap and water, covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, as well as making sure to eat balanced meals and staying healthy. People should also make sure to watch for common symptoms of the flu, including a runny or stuffy nose, headache, fever, dry cough, extreme fatigue and muscle aches.
With research from 2015, it was estimated that 43 percent of people in the United States thought that the flu vaccine would give them the flu according to Medical News Today. The flu vaccine that is injected into the immune system does not contain active or live flu viruses. Injecting the inactive version of the virus allows the body to then be able to register an active or live virus and attack it quickly.
The flu shot has been around since its development in 1938 by Jonas Salk and Thomas Francis. The United States military was the first to be protected by it during WWII. Each year the vaccine updates to keep up with the current flu virus strain, as there are multiple versions of the virus which can mutate. This is why it is recommended to get a shot each season, since the immune response to the virus last season might not be the same as the current one, and the strength of last vaccine declines after a year post-injection.
This year, the Health Services at Drew is participating in a Flu Vaccine Challenge from the New Jersey Department of Health. The challenge is to raise awareness of the virus and compete to raise the vaccination rates of college-aged young adults.
According to the NJ College Flu Challenge, between 9-48 percent of college students are reported as having the flu and on average having it last for over a week. The goal for the state is to have over 70 percent of adults vaccinated, although not many were in the last seasons.
For the challenge, the school with the highest flu vaccination coverage percent (from undergraduate students) will receive a trophy from the New Jersey Department of Health. Drew has hosted two Flu clinics already this semester to help raise vaccination rates. There is a short anonymous questionnaire available on the New Jersey Department of Health’s website to fill out about whether or not you received the flu shot this season and why.
For more information about how to receive the flu shot on campus, make sure to contact the Health Services on campus at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Here some other locations to get a flu shot near campus:
122 Main St., Madison
Hours: Open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Stop & Shop Pharmacy
133 Main St., Madison
Hours: Mon-Fri 9 a.m.- 9 p.m.
Sat. 9 a.m. - 5p.m
Sun 9 a.m. - 3p.m
641 Shunpike Rd., Hickory Square S/c, Chatham
Hours: Open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. -10p.m.
471 Main St., Chatham S/c Chatham
Open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. - 10p.m.
ShopRite Pharmacy of Chatham
641 Shunpike Road, Chatham
Hours: Mon-Fri 8 a.m. - 8p.m.
Sat. 9 a.m. - 5p.m.
Sun. 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.