Adulting with Erin: Flu shot like it's hot

By Erin Bothwell | January 26, 2018 4:29pm
by Brennan Robinson / The Beacon

The flu this year is reported to be particularly nasty. I mean, besides the fact that having your body taken over by fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, headache and fatigue is never really not nasty, this year’s flu is nasty on top of that nasty. How many times can I write nasty in one paragraph? Six. Six times. The devil’s number, because the flu is that n-a-s-t-y.  (Okay, I guess that’s seven, but you get the point). 

You may have heard this year’s flu shot isn’t super great, basically because it isn’t an excellent match for this year’s flu strain. Ideally, the flu would wait for its perfect soulmate of a vaccine to come along and be its foil, but sometimes the timeline doesn’t work out. The scientists who create the flu vaccine do so before the flu actually arrives and have to use research to predict which strains will be in it. They don’t always get it 100 percent perfect, but they do their best to keep us healthy. Or at least, I like to think they do. With several different strains out there, scientists haven’t had it any easier this year. 

Even with a really good vaccine, the flu shot can’t always stop the flu from paying you a visit. It can shorten how long that visit is. It can also prevent you from being mega-sick with the flu instead of just regular ol’ pretty sick. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting a flu shot in October, but if you didn’t get one then, it’s a great idea to get one NOW.* After all, flu season doesn’t just end when spring arrives. The CDC states it can last until May. 

*It is acceptable to drop everything and resume reading this article after you rush to the nearest flu shot place to get injected. 

If my and the CDC’s word isn’t enough for you, read what this fancy East Coast professor man has to say about the flu shot: According to Steven Salzberg, professor of biomedical engineering, computer science and biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University, “80% of people who have come down with the flu this year did not get vaccinated.” Take that, anti-vaxxers. 

People have died from this year’s strain of the flu. You’ve probably heard about the flu-related death of a healthy 21-year-old man from Pennsylvania this past month. The unfortunate truth is, people die from the flu every year for various reasons. The CDC estimates roughly 12,000 people died from the flu in 2011-12, and 56,000 the year after that. 

Am I using statistics to instill fear and persuade you to get your flu shot? Yes, I absolutely am. (Is it working?) If you’re thinking about getting a flu shot, here’s a map of places near you that will poke you with a needle for health. 

If you do get the flu, don’t panic. See your doctor within the first two days to try and nip it in the bud. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, don’t go to class. I get that misery loves company, but do you really want to infect your classmates and professors? Just because you’re battling a nasty case of influenza, we all have to risk catching it? Nope, nope, nope. Don’t be that person, coughing and hacking and wheezing and sneezing next to your healthy(ish) peers. Take one for the team and stay home.

If your professor does not accept you had the flu and had to miss class, then your professor’s a jerk. I didn’t mean to be the one to break this to you, but someone had to. Even if you’re all angry and ill about your professor being a jerk, it’s probably still not a good idea to go to their office and wipe your snot on their door handle for revenge. Just saying. 

You should know it’s perfectly acceptable to run away from other people who have the flu if they have not quarantined themselves. Sometimes, you need to take matters into your own hands. Running/scooting/leaning/moving away from the temporarily ill and contagious is an extra precaution that might help. Maybe. I don’t have any stats on that. 

So go on, get your flu shot. If you’re scared of needles, take a deep breath and don’t look. It’ll only hurt for a second. I promise. Well, unless something really freaky happens. Which it probably won’t.