Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fighting the flu

Students receive tips to avoid sickness

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a common sickness that five to 20 percent of the population is plagued with every year during the fall and winter seasons, according to cdc.gov, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) official website.

prevent — Flu strikes most often during the fall and winter seasons of each year. Photo credit: Breann Black

Prevent — Flu strikes most often during the fall and winter seasons of each year. Photo credit: Breann Black

Medical professionals produce a flu shot annually to help people avoid coming down with the flu. According to livescience.com, a science news website run by TechMediaNetwork, 2013 has seen a new development in the flu shot. Researchers have found a way to manufacture a vaccine that protects against four strands of influenza, rather than just two or three strands.

CDC has estimated that roughly 135 million doses of the flu vaccine will be available for the 2013-2014 season. Thirty million of the flu vaccinations, which will be distributed nationwide and offered to the public, will be the quadrivalent vaccine.

“The flu shot is not a cure for the flu if a person already has it,” Bob Gerhardt, a Virginia-based doctor for the U.S. Army stated. “The flu shot is a preventative measure people should take to help their body fight against any strands of virus they might come in contact with.”

Gerhardt has been an awarded medical professional for decades and has seen many people become very ill and harmed by different cases of influenza. Gerhardt explained that when the flu shot is administered, small doses of the infection are introduced to the body so that it can fight it off quickly and be more prepared to fight the illness in the future.

Gerhardt also said many people are unaware that influenza can be deadly. Flu shots are a cheap and effective way of preventing sickness and death.

Other than the flu shot, Gerhardt said that washing hands frequently and exercising are good ways of fighting common illness such as the flu or colds.

Live Science stated that last year’s flu vaccination was 56 percent effective against the sickness. Health officials cannot securely say how effective this season’s shot will be, but they will monitor its efficiency.

While juggling college classes, family and extracurricular activities, sickness can prove to be a hindrance to students’ packed schedules.

Rachel Baumgardner, a junior business major at Liberty University, was affected by the flu last year.

“I could not go to class, and I was so overwhelmed with exhaustion to do any school work,” Baumgardner, said. “The flu really set me back last semester, and I was sick for almost two weeks. I was sick for four days with the actual flu, but the repercussions of the illness lasted almost a week and a half after that.”

Baumgardner said that although her professors and friends were very accommodating throughout her sickness, she wishes it never happened. She said it would have been smarter to spend $20 on a vaccine, rather than spend two weeks dealing with the illness.

“If I could give any words of advice, it would be that college students should stop thinking they’re invincible and take measures to protect themselves from the many germs that are on this campus,” Baumgardener said.

According to the CDC, anyone over the age of six months should get a flu vaccination. The timing of the flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season, so it is much better to be safe than sorry.

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