Friday, October 31, 2014

Fight the flu one shot at a time

Flu season has arrived at Liberty, and its brought its usual sniffling, aching and sneezing with it, meaning it is time for flu vaccines.

Quick and easy — Flu vaccinations, which are available at Light Medical, are one way to keep the flu away. Photo credit: Bekah Lohr

“The flu season is between October and March,” Liberty University Health Services physician Dr. Richard Lane, M.D., said.

Liberty students have been encouraged to get their flu vaccinations this season, as many students and faculty are already fighting the sickness.

“The flu has been on campus this semester,” Lane said. “It runs through the dorms very quickly.”

Lane explained that influenza is a respiratory illness, and symptoms can include a fever higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, a cough and a sore throat.

“There are about 36,000 influenza deaths in the U.S. every year,” Lane said.

There are many variations of the flu, including types A, B and C. Lane explained that there are several strains of type A, such as the novel H1N1 flu and a newer H3 strain first isolated this summer in Ohio. There are also type B strains and C strains. Type C is a milder illness.

“Types A and B are in the vaccine,” Lane said. “Both a live nasal vaccine and a split (killed) injectable vaccine are available.”

The vaccines are based on the most common viruses seen during the previous year and are well worth taking, according to Lane.

To prevent the flu, get a shot, wash hands regularly with soap and water and avoid others who are sick.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, the flu can be spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching the face, but is more often spread directly by droplets made from people coughing, sneezing or even talking. These droplets are then inhaled into the lungs of people nearby.

Liberty student Jade Carey is required as a nursing student to take the necessary precautions and get flu shots.

“If you don’t get the vaccines you have to wear a mask in the hospital,” Carey said. “It’s just to protect ourselves and our patients. Every Centra employee and nursing student has to have the shot.”

If a student does catch the flu, the CDC recommends they stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever has broke to avoid spreading the virus. Those who have the flu are encouraged to have as little contact with others as possible and cover all coughs and sneezes. They should also wash their hands often and drink plenty of fluids.

For more information about the flu or flu related illnesses, and to learn more about treatments and frequently asked questions, visit webMD.com or visit the CDC’s website at cdc.gov.

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