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Find Out More about Seasonal Flu


Find Out More about Seasonal Flu

Flu Season Information

Flu season is usually from November to March, and there is a new and different influenza each year. Make sure you are revaccinated each flu season. Influenza vaccines will be available at WELLWVU Student Health during flu season.

If you need any additional information, feel free to call WELLWVU Student Health at 304-293-WELL.

What is Influenza (also called Flu)?

Influenza, or the seasonal flu, is a viral infection affecting the respiratory tract which occurs every winter. The best way to prevent this illness is by getting a flu vaccination each fall.

Every year in the United States, on average:

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
  • More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and;
  • About 36,000 people die from flu.

Get Vaccinated

There are two types of vaccines for seasonal flu:

  • The “flu shot” – an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle. The flu shot is approved for use in healthy people, and people with chronic medical conditions.
  • The nasal-spray flu vaccine – a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine). LAIV is approved for use in healthy people 5 years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.

About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against influenza-like illnesses caused by other viruses.

Which Students Should Get Vaccinated?

In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, certain people should get vaccinated each year. They are either people who are at high risk of having serious flu complications or people who live with or care for those at high risk for serious complications.

People at high risk for complications from the flu:

  • Adults with chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma;
  • Adults who needed regular medical care or were in a hospital during the previous year because of a metabolic disease (like diabetes), chronic kidney disease, or weakened immune system (including immune system problems caused by medicines or by infection with human immunodeficiency virus [HIV/AIDS]);
  • Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season;
  • People with any condition that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions (that is, a condition that makes it hard to breathe or swallow, such as brain injury or disease, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders, or other nerve or muscle disorders.);
  • People 65 years and older

Which Students Should Not Be Vaccinated

Some people should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. They include:

  • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
  • People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
  • People who developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously.
  • People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.

If you have questions about whether you should get a flu vaccine, consult your health-care provider.

Symptoms of Flu

If you have any of these flu symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re afflicted with influenza:

  • fever (usually high)
  • headache
  • extreme tiredness
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches
  • Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, less commonly in the student population

How Flu Spreads

Flu viruses spread in respiratory droplets caused by coughing and sneezing. They usually spread from person to person, though sometimes people become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you can pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. The average time to get sick after exposure is 2 days.

Complications of Flu

Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

Some studies show that smokers are more likely to get the flu, & there is a higher mortality rate from the flu among smokers than among nonsmokers.

Medications

Three antiviral drugs (amantadine, rimantadine, and oseltamivir) are approved for use in preventing the flu. These are prescription medications, and a doctor should be consulted before they are used.