Flu season in Wyoming is usually from October through March and a flu shot is typically recommended, but this year it may not give you full protection.
The effectiveness of the flu shot is being questioned this year.
“Usually it’s a good match because the experts review what flu is circulating around and they match the flu vaccine to the flu viruses,” Steane said. “But this time they think there is a mutation in one of the flu viruses after the vaccine was produced. But it’s still worthwhile getting a flu shot because you’ll still receive some protection. For an example, for a quadrivalent flu shot, that means three of the components are matching while one component is not.”
According to the Wyoming Department of Health, during the 2014-2015 season, the WDH-Vital Statistics Services Unit reported twenty-nine influenza-associated deaths (4.96 per 100,000) in Wyoming. The flu can cause mild to severe illness and can become quite serious.
“Students who are experiencing flu-like symptoms should consider seeking medical attention and should carefully consider their interactions with other members of the university community to avoid spreading their illness,” Vice President of Student Affairs Sean Blackburn said.
Symptoms of the flu include the abrupt onset of fever, chills, headache and muscle aches as well as frequent nasal congestion, sore throat, cough and general malaise.
“Getting a flu shot is the best precaution students can take,” Blackburn said. “If you have the student health insurance associated with the university, you will need a referral from the Student Health Service, so the insurance will cover the cost of the flu shot.”
There are a few different types of flu shots available.
“There is trivalent flu shot and the quadrivalent flu shot,” Director of Student Health Dr. Joanne Steane said. “Trivalent flu shots provide protection against three different viruses while quadrivalent flu shots provide protection against four different viruses. At student health we provide quadrivalent flu shots.”
If you are sick and unable to attend class, communication with faculty is important.
“Students should communicate with faculty if they believe they should not attend class or need assistance with missed class or deadlines,” Blackburn said. “The Dean of Students Office is available to consult regarding class attendance and personal hardships.”
Steane said, “It’s a flu vaccine for the season. If you got it in fall, it’s good throughout the winter. And then, you will have to get another one in the next fall, because it’s only good for one season.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, common methods to help lessen the chances of acquiring the flu include, keeping your hands clean by handwashing or using hand sanitizer, covering your cough or sneezing with tissues or your elbow, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth, avoiding contact with sick people, clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with the flu, get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated.
“I already had the flu shot last fall semester, so I don’t have to worry about it at the moment,” Shavinka Fernando, an undergraduate senior, said.