Health Services stresses flu shots

By Linda Luk

In the midst of flu season, students can go to University Health Services for a free flu shot to prevent getting influenza.

Flu season runs from late fall through April but reaches its peak in January, according to the Center for Disease Control. Influenza is highly contagious and can develop into serious conditions like pneumonia. During a typical flu season, 110,000 people are hospitalized with complications from the flu and about 20,000 die, according to the Center.

This season many health facilities, including NIU Health Services, received vaccination supplies late. This delay decreased the number of people who were able to get a shot from Health Services.

“People may have gone elsewhere to receive their shot, and some figure they no longer need to,” said Beverly Espe, assistant director of University Health Services.

Espe said about 700 flu shots were given, and so far, no students have reported any side effects from the shot. Many people think they may get the flu from the shot, but U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher disagreed in a recent Health News article.

“The scientific evidence is overwhelming,” Satcher said. “The influenza vaccine is safe and effective and definitely will not cause the flu.”

To prevent getting the flu this season, students are encouraged to receive a flu shot. College students are not considered a high risk group, but students with the following conditions are strongly encouraged to get a shot: students with chronic health problems such as diabetes or asthma, heart or respiratory disease, sickle cell anemia and students who are working with health care and day care.

Freshman undecided major Stephanie Wiess received her first flu shot this past semester and hasn’t yet contracted the flu.

“Because I was getting sick already, I got the shot so I won’t get the flu,” she said.

In the past years, there hasn’t really been a major flu outbreak in the NIU community, Espe said.

“It is never too late to receive a flu shot,” Espe said. “Many may think that they have gotten by, and why get one now? It is better to be safe than sorry.”

Flu shots still are available free of charge at Health Services. No appointment is necessary.