Staying proactive during flu season: what you need to know

Lexi Marco

The 2018-19 influenza season has arrived, and staying proactive is key for students who want to take preventative measures.

“We are all at risk for getting the flu,” Infectious Disease Specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Dr. Sherif Mossad said. “Which can keep us from going to school or work, and in people with certain underlying diseases, it can be fatal. Even in healthy people, it can be fatal. According to the CDC, 80,000 people died of influenza in the 2017-2018 season.”

It may be easy for students to ignore the approaching flu season, but Dr. Lisa Dannemiller, licensed pharmacist at University Health Services, believes that it’s important for students to take care of themselves and get the shot.

“When I offer the flu shot to students here, they usually say no,” Dannemiller said. “But I tell them it will only take one time for you to get the influenza, and then you’ll never want to miss your flu shot again. You’ll feel miserable if you get the flu. I think the reasons to get the shot are better than the reasons not to get it.”

Misconstrued ideas and perceptions of the flu can also be factors in hesitant students. Some symptoms may even seem similar to a cold.

“A lot of people think that the flu is nausea and vomiting, but that’s not always what influenza is,” Dannemiller said. “Influenza is a sudden onset of headache, high fever, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, runny nose, sometimes with nausea and vomiting, but that’s not predominant.”

While flu shots do involve seeing a doctor and being punctured with a needle, Dannemiller thinks there is nothing for students to be scared of.

“Students say that they’re healthy and that they don’t need to get the flu shot,” Dannemiller said. “Another thing that students say is that they’re afraid of needles. But, a few seconds of getting a shot is better than being flat on your back for a week and missing classes and tests.”

Krista Nolfi, junior communication studies major, received the flu shot earlier this month.

“I honestly got the shot because my mom thought it would be best for me,” Nolfi said. “But I definitely am glad I went. As a college student, you’re exposed to a lot of different germs and viruses, so it’s good to protect yourself from that.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, October is the prime time to get a flu shot. Although flu season peaks in December, Dannemiller said last season, the earliest cases on Kent State’s campus began in August and were reported until May.

There are resources for students looking to get the shot on campus. DeWeese Health Center Flu Clinic offers walk-ins from 3-5 p.m. every Thursday.

“In addition to protecting yourself, the flu shot can protect others,” Dr. Mossad said. “Healthy people who come down with the flu may not be severely ill, but may unknowingly pass it on to someone in whom it proves fatal. Get it early. Protect yourself, your loved ones and the community.”

Lexi Marco is the health reporter. Contact her at [email protected].