Students and faculty members can now get their annual flu shot at Health Services.
For the past two weeks, Health Services has been giving flu shots to students and faculty members. Students and faculty need to call and schedule an appointment with the nurse to receive their flu shot.
“Students that have a suppressed immune system, kidney problems, diabetes, heart problems, and chronic illnesses should be the ones who get vaccinated,” Cynthia Tompkins, assistant director of health services, said. “It is very important that they get vaccinated.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, most everyone who is six months or older should get the flu shot. The only people who should not get the flu vaccine are those with egg allergies, Guillain-Barre Syndrome or are moderately to severely ill.
The flu vaccine does not completely prevent a person from catching the flu because it is different for everyone.
“It depends on each individual person and how we build antibodies,” Tompkins said. “If you build antibodies well, then that will prevent you from getting the flu.”
There are two different types of the flu vaccine. The inactivated vaccine, the most common, is injected with a needle. There is also a live, or attenuated, vaccine, which is sprayed into the nostrils.
“There is nothing that actually kills the flu virus,” Tompkins said. “What we do is treat the symptoms. There is an anti-viral drug called Tamiflu that we can actually give our students that lessen the severity of the symptoms, but it is important that the student starts that medication in the first 72 hours of symptoms.”
“The number one thing you can do to prevent the flu is hand washing,” Tompkins said. “Keep them away from your eyes, nose and mouth because you come in contact with the germs with your hands.”
Tompkins said the flu season varies in different parts of the country.
“There have been cases already confirmed in parts of Tennessee but none here in Cookeville,” Tompkins said.
Tompkins said the flu season will last until mid-April but will peak in January and February.
Influenza is a contagious disease. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, body ache and in some cases vomiting and diarrhea.