Preparation on campus for upcoming flu season

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, flu shots were offered in C120 to Bellevue College employees and their dependents. Workers from were present and served an estimated 150 people, more than previous years. Flu shots were free for those with the UMP medical plan, Group Health or Medicare and were $30 for those without.

Flu vaccinations generally consist of deactivated or attenuated flu viruses that do not infect the recipient but still trigger an immune response to build up antibodies against the flu. Vaccinations are made every year with the most common strains of influenza.

While there were concerns about the efficacy of last year’s flu vaccine, staff at the event mentioned that Australia already had their flu season and the vaccine was more effective there.

The Washington Department of Health recommends vaccination for everybody six months and older, especially those higher risk groups such as the young, elderly, those with health issues, pregnant women and healthcare workers.

Pregnant women are at a high risk for severe illness if they get the flu, and the disease can cause premature labor or birth defects. The flu vaccine is safe at any stage of pregnancy as well as before and after pregnancy and has been shown to protect the child for up to six months. Since babies under six months old cannot be vaccinated, the Department of Health states that “Babies can be vaccinated against the flu starting at 6 months of age, so it is important that your household get vaccinated to help protect baby until that time. Children under 9 years old may need two doses annually for best protection.”

The website likewise states that “Influenza affects 5-20% of the population each year, flu shots reduce the risk of influenza by up to 90%, flu shots are recommended annually to provide protection and vaccination is the single greatest way to prevent flu and its associated illnesses.”

Vaccine safety has been a frequent topic of discussion, and the Centers for Disease Control addresses this, saying “Flu vaccines are among the safest medical products in use. Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years, and there has been extensive research supporting the safety of flu vaccines.”

Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, fatigue, headache and vomiting or diarrhea. Those with severe symptoms are urged to contact a healthcare professional where diagnostics can be carried out.

Vaccination is one method to prevent the spread of the flu, others include frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes with sleeves or tissues as opposed to hands, and staying home when sick to avoid spreading the flu to fellow students or coworkers.