Snow is not the only the thing that winter brings. In addition to snowflakes, icy roads and colder temperatures is the onset of flu season. The Northwestern Wellness Center encourages students to be prepared.
The Wellness Center is currently scheduling appointments for students to get their flu vaccination. Dr. Michelle Van Wyhe said that it is important for students to get their vaccination because the flu can be a serious sickness.
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, the flu, or influenza, is a viral sickness that causes shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion and severe or persistent vomiting. It is a contagious respiratory illness that can lead to pneumonia.
Dr. Michelle Van Wyhe said that the flu vaccination protects against three or four viruses; an H1N1, an H3N2 and one or two influenza B viruses depending on the year.
“This year’s vaccination is based off of the most prevalent influenza strains that were seen last year,” Van Whye said.
The vaccine protects against the viruses that research indicates will be most common this year.
Some college students may be under the impression that the flu only affects the young or the old, but because of close contact in dorms and classrooms as well as social and sporting events, college students are actually at a unique and increased risk of catching the flu according to the Michigan Department of Community Health.
“If someone gets sick on campus, it is very easily spread,” Van Whye said.
The flu is spread through the droplets created when virus-carriers cough, sneeze or talk. A student can contract the virus by touching an object or surface that has the droplets on it and then touching their nose, mouth or eyes.
“Even if students are relatively healthy, they should still get the vaccine,” Van Wyhe said.
If students are hesitant to get the vaccine because of the cost, Van Wyhe said most insurance companies cover the cost of the flu vaccination. Students can check with their health insurance company to see if it is covered. If it is not, she recommends going through the Sioux County Community Health Partners (CHP) located in downtown Orange City.
CHP is the public health department in Sioux County. It offers flu vaccinations at a reduced cost to those whose insurance companies do not cover the vaccine. CHP is putting on many immunization clinics throughout Sioux County in the coming months. Students can visit www.siouxcountychp.org to learn about the dates and locations of these clinics.
Van Wyhe said students should not be worried about side effects from the vaccination other than the occasional side effects of a sore arm and achiness.
“You can’t get the flu from the flu shot,” Van Wyhe said.
She said flu season is unpredictable and can begin as early as the fall and last as late as the spring. The sooner students get the vaccination the better. To encourage students to get their vaccinations sooner than later, the Wellness Center is entering everyone who gets their vaccination before Oct. 23 into a drawing for a NW long sleeve pullover.
“The pain of the shot now is much less than the pain of influenza later,” Van Wyhe said.
To make an appointment to get the flu vaccination, stop by the Wellness Center located in the RSC or call 712-707-7321.