By Jamal Barghouti
College can be fast-paced and hectic. Between working, studying, going to classes, participating in extracurricular activities and building your resume, you simply don’t have time to spare. You especially don’t have time to be sick.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, an estimated 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu, with more than 200,000 people finding themselves hospitalized, missing work or school, and unable to recover quickly. The CDC estimates that the flu kills between 5,300 and 39,000 people each year, including many young, perfectly healthy people. It is important to recognize the flu is more than just a bad cold. In fact, it’s the leading cause of death and illness from a vaccine-preventable disease in the United States.
At Immunize Nevada, the flu is a big deal. Immunize Nevada is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) coalition of individuals, businesses and organizations committed to improving and protecting the health of northern Nevadans.
“Seasonal flu vaccines are your best protection against getting flu,” said Heidi Parker, executive director of Immunize Nevada. “Everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine every year. The flu vaccine can literally save your life or the life of someone you love. Getting vaccinated not only protects you, but also those in our community who are vulnerable — like children and seniors.”
Many Wolf Pack coaches ensure their athletes are in top condition so they can have the best performance on the field and off. “I think a flu shot for our athletes is a wise choice,” said head coach Neil Harper of the Nevada swim team. “Our swimmers are up at 5 a.m., practice twice a day, stay up late studying, get tired, fatigued, run-down and are therefore more susceptible to getting sick. Building immunity to the multiple flu strains is extremely helpful in preventing serious sickness and lost practice.”
Nevada football coach Brian Polian agrees. “I can assure you I’m going to make all of the guys take the flu shot this year,” he said in a recent interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Despite the available information, some are convinced only through experience.
Rhonda Baskins, a nurse who serves as Immunize Nevada’s adult immunization coordinator, remembers a woman who declined the vaccination, but later returned to get it for her whole family.
What changed? Her husband’s friend had just died from the flu, and she wanted to make sure her family was protected.
In the event that you do get sick, it’s important to stay home, especially if you might have the flu. Here are some symptoms that are associated with the flu rather than a cold.
-A 100 F or higher fever
-A cough and/or sore throat
-A runny or stuffy nose
-Headaches and/or body aches
-Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
If you have any of these symptoms, do the whole Pack a favor and stay home.
Getting the flu can cost you more than a few missed assignments; it can cost you your life. Get your flu vaccine as soon as possible.
The Student Health Clinic on campus offers flu shots to students with no appointment necessary. Another option for University of Nevada students is the Community Health Alliance (formerly HAWC), or the Walgreens located just south of campus.
Find the flu vaccine location nearest you at www.inFLUenceNevada.org.
Jamal Barghouti studies journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.