Flu shots are back to stick it to campus

Schedule: Students and staff can contact the Student Health Services office for scheduling their vaccines. The cost for students is $15.

While we’re barely at the end of a long pandemic, we still have another worry right around the corner, the flu season. Samantha Chitwood, Nurse Practitioner and Dr. Tiffany McCain, the director of the Student Health Services Office at Washburn gave their insight about the flu season and vaccination.

“The best things you can do are the same things you can do to prevent any illness: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, don’t touch surfaces you don’t have to, be really mindful of good hand hygiene and obviously stay away from people who are sick.” said McCain. “Also, get your flu shot and your COVID-19 vaccine”.

As a reminder, If you have to touch any surfaces like open doors, computers and other objects, you can find hand sanitizer dispensers all across campus. McCain also gave a special tip when it comes to opening doors.

“Especially while leaving the bathroom, I’ll hang on to my paper towels and grab the door handle with them,” said McCain.

Students and staff can get vaccinated at the Student Health Services office. Flu shots are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays while COVID-19 vaccines are primarily available on Wednesdays and Fridays. You can schedule them at the same time, since now you can get them together according to the Center for Disease Control’s new guidelines, and no longer have to wait 2 weeks between your shots. The good news is, you can still get the flu shot even without insurance. The cost for students is $15.The flu shot is very effective, but there’s no vaccine that will protect you a hundred percent. What it can do is lessen the severity of your illness, so that’s why it is important to get vaccinated.

“Most studies I’ve seen show you can get up to 80% efficacy out of a vaccine for the flu, and that’s pretty good,” McCain said.

Chitwood explained that the flu shots get updated every year to include new strains of the influenza virus. You can get the quadrivalent shot, which covers two of the main strains of influenza A and two of influenza B. McCain adds that this year for the first time we have the 65+ year old high dose flu shot, which eligible students and staff can get at the student clinic.

“The flu and COVID-19 are different viruses and require different vaccines,” Chitwood said.

Though both viruses have been around for a long time, the biggest difference is the new strain of the coronavirus family, the COVID-19, can spread much easier than the influenza virus. People can become more ill from COVID-19 than the flu, but it is important to get immunized against both. The symptoms can be similar, such as the fever, fatigue, body aches and the general feeling of unwellness, but the dealbreaker seems to be the loss of taste, which is not a common symptom of the flu.

In case you contract either one, it’s important to get tested, stay home, isolate yourself from others, don’t go to class and don’t go to work or other in-person activities. Make sure to notify your faculty that you’re sick and that you’re not going to come to class. Also, notify the Student Health Services since they are tracking cases of people in isolation who tested positive or need help with testing. They also assist people with their health clearance so they can return to class when they’re feeling better.

“We also report to the health department, and it’s not because we’re trying to be nosy, but it’s a community health and safety issue and we’re just trying to keep people healthy.” McCain Said.

When it comes to COVID-19 cases in Shawnee County, we’re still in a substantial range. The cases have gone down slightly, so McCain hopes this means people are taking precautions.

“While we’re sort of still holding in that substantial range, it is trending down a little bit, so fingers crossed it continues to trend down,” McCain said.

You can learn more about where to the flu shot at Washburn here:

Edited by: Katrina Johnson
Edited by Ellie Walker