Vaccinations ready for flu season

Posted Nov. 2, 2007
Health series

The flu season is right around the corner and with heightened chances of catching the virus between the months of January and May, it is extremely important to get vaccinated now.

The flu is caused by the influenza virus, which spreads from infected persons to the nose or throat of others.

It is often mistaken for other illnesses, but is obvious when its symptoms are extremely intense.

These symptoms include but are not limited to fever, sore throat, chills, fatigue, cough, headache and muscle aches.

The flu hospitalizes over 226,000 people a year and another 36,000 people die from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC also reports that it can result in pneumonia and can be dangerous for people with heart or breathing conditions.

“I had fever, massive headaches and light was irritating to my eyes,” said senior athletic training major Bobby Ruiz, who had the flu about a week ago.

Each year there is a different form of the influenza virus and that is why yearly vaccinations are important.

The current vaccination is the inactivated vaccine which is given by injection into the muscle.

It takes up to two weeks for the protection to develop and lasts up to one year.

“A local reaction may be the only reaction,” Cindy Denne, director of the health center said.

The reactions from a flu shot are generally mild.

There may be soreness in the injection site, fever or aches.
Severe problems are usually not reported but if any unusual symptoms such as high fever or behavior changes occur the CDC recommends that you seek medical attention.

“It’s pain-free. I have had no reaction to the shot,” Director of Student Accounts Xochitl Martinez said.

The flu shot is highly recommended for people with asthma, long-term health problems, weakened immune systems and those with certain muscle or nerve disorders as well as those people who provide community services, live in dormitories or crowded conditions and people who travel to the Southern Hemisphere between April and September.

Ruiz, who is asthmatic, has decided not to get the vaccination due to the fact that he feels that the potential of getting the virus is inevitable.

“I will take care of it as it comes. I don’t like vaccinations in general,” Ruiz said.

“Personally, for me, it was recommended and I have been very fortunate to not have gotten the flu,” Martinez said.

The Student Health Center recently offered the vaccination to students, faculty and staff to combat this season’s flu.

There were 120 shots available to anyone who called and made an appointment on Oct. 23-31.

The shots were offered for a $14 fee to cover the cost of the vaccine. By Oct. 24 about 80 shots were already spoken for.

“They are available to anyone who calls us,” Denne said.

Martinez who works on campus has been receiving her flu vaccination for about seven years from the ULV Student Health Center.

“Its really convenient because I work on campus,” Martinez said. “I just make an appointment and walk to the Health Center.”

Denne said that staff and faculty are usually the ones who come in and get the flu shots every year while students shy away for their own reasons, of which she is unaware.

“I think it’s great that the Health Center gives employees and students the option to get a flu shot and it’s convenient, only $14 and takes five minutes,” Martinez said.

The importance of getting the shot can be crucial to those who have an elevated chance of catching the virus. Taking steps to protect yourself can help prevent the virus altogether if you are like Ruiz and feel that getting a shot is not for you.

“One of the biggest things to combat the flu is to do hand washing and not share utensils,” Denne said. “Hand washing is the No. 1 thing.”

For more details about the flu virus and vaccination, contact the Centers for Disease Control at (800) CDC-INFO or visit

For more information about the services provided by the Student Health Center and for more flu information, visit

Francine Gobert can be reached at

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