The Wichitan

Flu Season Has Arrived

Shelby Davis

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Flu season is now underway.

According to the ETR Association, up to one in five Americans get the flu each year.

It begins on the first day of October and carries through the early spring months. Bringing with it body aches, dry coughs, and a fever.

“I had the flu my senior year in high school. I cried because it hurt so bad,” said Wade Wilcox, a sophomore nursing student.

The flu is spread through the air and through contact with other people who have the virus.

Kay Sabine, 2008 MSU nursing graduate and the Wichita Public Health District charge nurse, said the number one thing you can do, besides getting the flu vaccination, is to wash your hands and keep them away from your face.

To keep from getting the flu, keep in good health and disinfect the things you come into contact with that others have used, such as phones, computer keyboards and pens.

“Wash hands, wash hands, wash hands. It is the most important thing,” Pat Pelz, CVS pharmacist said.

Once the virus has entered the body, there is not a whole lot that can be done. Sabine said students have about a 24-hour period to get to the doctor to get an anti-viral, which shortens the length of the virus cycle but does not cure it.

Some over-the-counter medications can be taken to help with the symptoms that the flu brings but the cannot stop the virus.

“Once you get the flu, you have got it,” Plez said.

After the 24-hour period, drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest. Students who experience shaking chills, high fevers that last more than two days, symptoms that do not go away after seven days,  severe headaches or wheezing, need to call the doctor.

“Drink fluids, it really makes you feel better,” Wilcox said.

You can prevent getting the flu in its entirety by getting the flu shot at the Vinson Health center, the Wichita County Public Health Department and other locations around town.

Pelz said is especially important for those students living in the dorms because they are in such close living quarters.

“Make sure you get the flu shot,” Wilcox said.

At the Vinson Health Center, students can get the shot for free and it should become available in the next few weeks.

At the other locations, prices vary but insurance, which can pay for a portion or the whole injection, is often accepted.

This year, the Wichita County Public Health District ordered 1,500-doses of the flu vaccination for people over the age of 18, a 500-dose decrease from last year but they were not all used so this year cut backs were made. However, if the Health District runs out, they have been assured they can order more.

“There is no shortage of vaccines at all this year,” Sabine said.

This year is the first year the Health District will be offering the flu mist to adults.

This vaccination is not given as a shot it is given as a mist that is sprayed in the nose. The mist can be given to anyone between the ages of two and 49.

It differs from the shot because it is a live virus that has been weakened and it may cause slight side effects. It does, however, give quicker protection than the injection gives.

“The minute you walk out of the door, you have protection from the flu,” Sabine said.

The injection is available for anyone six-months and older.

Because children under six-months of age cannot get the injection, Sabine said it is important for parents and others who will be in contact with infants to get the vaccination to keep from spreading the virus to the younger babies.

With the injection, it can take up to two weeks for it to become affective.

Since the injection is not affective the minute it enters the body, it is sometimes mistaken to give someone the flu.

However, this is not true. It is likely that the person has caught the virus before the injection has become active.

“The injection is an inactivated dead virus that cannot give you the flu,” Sabine said.

Each year, there are three strains in the flu vaccine.

The height of flu season in this part of the country does not reach its peak until January.

The strains in the flu vaccine are matched as closely as possible to the viruses that are circulating around the U.S. as well as other parts of the world. Over the past two years, the two A strains and one B strain in flu injections have been same. This year, however, things have changed.

A string, the H1N1, otherwise known as the swine flu, is the same. The other A string has changed to the H3N2, which is also a form of the swine flu. The B/Wisconsin strain is the third strain in this year’s vaccination.

“You should probably get the vaccination because it is not the same as it has been,” Sabine said.

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