Though much of the public’s attention has been centered around the coronavirus pandemic, the threat of an upcoming flu season is upon us, and medical experts are saying that getting a flu shot is even more important than normal this year.
Dr. Fred Kam, the medical director at the Auburn University Medical Clinic, said that this year, it is especially important to get a flu shot.
“I normally recommend that people get vaccinated in the middle or end of October, but this year, I am recommending early vaccinations to reduce the potential risk of a flu outbreak simultaneous to the spread of COVID-19,” Kam said.
Not only should students get their flu vaccine because of the simultaneous threat of coronavirus, but also because the projected strain of flu for this season could affect young people more than any other age group.
Dr. Marilyn Bulloch, associate clinical professor and pharmacist at the Med Clinic, has been noticing the patterns of this season’s flu in the Southern Hemisphere. Each year, scientists look at the flu strand that circulates in other areas of the world before it comes to the U.S. to determine the strand that they will use for the flu shot.
“My biggest concern is someone who gets the flu when they could have prevented it,” Bulloch said.
Bulloch explained that if a person gets the flu, their body is more susceptible to another infection, such as COVID-19. If that person then gets the flu at the same time as coronavirus, they could experience complications and severe illness that they wouldn’t have with only one of the viruses.
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Bulloch said the flu is more than just a bad cold and should be taken with precaution.
This year, young people may be even more vulnerable than normal.
“The Southern Hemisphere has had a mild season, so that’s good news,” Bulloch said. “But, it has been the H1N1 strand, which hits younger people the hardest.”
Bulloch encouraged Auburn students to get their flu shot before the end of October so that they have enough time for the vaccine to produce immunity.
For those allergic to eggs, there are now two types of flu vaccines that contain no egg proteins.
Many nursing students, such as junior Emma Truitt, have already received their flu shot this year. Nursing students administered flu shots to other nursing students from Sept. 14–15.
Truitt said this time of year is earlier than when she would normally get a flu shot, but this just happened to be the time when the nursing school was giving them to students for free.
“It’s important for college students to get a flu shot so that we don’t all get the flu and COVID-19,” Truitt said. “Any preventative measure is important to take, especially now.”
Truitt emphasized the fact that if most of the public gets a flu shot, hospital overflow due to excess flu patients will be avoided.
Truitt will be administering flu shots to the public at East Alabama Medical Center in the coming weeks.
Pharmacies across Auburn have begun offering flu shots for the season. For the majority of cases, health insurance of any kind covers the cost of a flu shot.
No appointment is needed for students to get flu shots at pharmacies such as Walgreens, Publix Pharmacy and the Med Clinic. A scheduled appointment can be made at CVS and Walmart.
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