September 22, 2020

Washing your hands won’t cut it: Get your flu shot

By Catherine Brown —

Around this time last year, The Louisville Cardinal published an article persuading students to get their flu shots. Global health standards have changed since then. It’s time to get your flu shot.

The University of Louisville will provide free flu shots to students, faculty and staff starting Sept. 21 on the Health Science Campus. On Sept. 28, free flu shots will be available on Belknap Campus in SAC W116-117. 

Students might be surprised to hear that the university is not mandating flu shots the way they have with COVID-19 tests. U of L Director of Communications John Karman said flu shots are still highly recommended for students, faculty and staff.

According to the Center for Disease Control, vaccines produce T-lymphocytes and antibodies. The immune system often develops sickness-like symptoms such as a fever after receiving a vaccine, but these symptoms are normal and help the body to develop immunity. After these symptoms disappear, the body will remember how to fight that disease in the future should a patient get infected. Those infected shortly before or after the time of the vaccination might still develop the disease as the body has not had enough time to create these memory cells.

But the coronavirus is not the same as the influenza virus or any strain of it. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 are still susceptible to the flu. 

U of L provides free flu and cold self-care kits to students. These kits can be found at Campus Health Medical Services, the Health Promotion office, and at designated flu-shot stations.

Even U of L students agree that you need to get your flu shot.  “Flu shots are necessary to get because it’s best to be protected against the disease so you won’t have a chance of getting the virus,” said Destiny Smith, a pre-nursing student.

This year, Smith said because of COVID-19 it is even more important to get a flu shot.

”Students should get the flu shot again because the symptoms are very similar to COVID,” she said. “Getting a flu shot is something that may help prevent the spread of COVID.”

Doctors aren’t just suggesting flu shots for fun. People often think they won’t catch a disease because of their good hygienic habits or a strong immune system, but these things aren’t always enough to protect you. Bacteria and viral infections are everywhere and we carry more of these in our bodies than we assume.

The CDC estimates that a range of about 12,000 to 79,000 flu-related deaths occur every year. COVID-19 deaths total at nearly 200,000 in the United States.

Since the early stages of the pandemic, immunologist expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has expressed concerns that the fall season will help spread the virus. 

“As we get into the fall and do more indoor things, we’re likely to see upticks in COVID-19,” said Fauci. He also advised wearing masks and social distancing, which can help control the spread of the flu.

Nobody wants to shake hands with you when you’re carrying harmful bacteria. Simple hand washing isn’t going to make the flu virus go away. Wear a mask and stay home when you can. Nobody wants to catch your virus.

Graphic by Joseph Garcia // The Louisville Cardinal

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