What’s the Deal with the Flu Vaccine?

By Liana Stiegler, University Recreation & Wellness, Communications Assistant

flu shot

Flu season is upon us, and we all know that nothing is slower than a sick turtle. Now is the time to get vaccinated. Let’s keep College Park full of healthy Terps all the way through finals week!

Why should I get vaccinated?

When you get sick with the flu, you are contagious for 5-7 days. That means a whole week of missing class, work, and practice. It might take even longer to feel 100% better. Nobody has time for that!

Getting a flu vaccination greatly reduces your risk of catching the flu. If you do still happen to get sick, the illness will be milder. Plus, vaccines help protect other people. When healthy people get vaccinated we reduce the risk of passing the flu on to vulnerable populations such as babies, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses.

It is important to get vaccinated every year because your immune system needs an annual refresher. Flu viruses also change slightly every year, so vaccines are updated to fight each season’s particular flu strains.

How do flu shots work?

Flu shots contain strains of flu viruses that are “inactivated”- they can’t make you sick! A typical flu shot protects against three different types of flu viruses: influenza A (both H1N1 and H3N2), and influenza B. Anyone over the age of six months old can and should get a flu shot, including pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. However, if you have ever had an allergic reaction to eggs, talk to a doctor before getting vaccinated. You may need to get a slightly different shot, called the recombinant flu vaccine.

What about the nasal spray flu vaccine?

The flu mist is a good alternative to the flu shot. Fewer people are eligible for the spray vaccine- only people ages 2-49 years-old, and not pregnant women. People with chronic health conditions should get the shot rather than the mist- there hasn’t been enough testing with this particular population. People with egg allergies should refrain from the mist vaccine as well, and so should people with asthma (it could trigger an attack).

I’m convinced- When should I get the shot?

NOW! Flu season can start as early as October, although the peak usually occurs around January. Your body takes around two weeks to develop the antibodies after the vaccination, so it’s better to get it done early. That being said, vaccines are usually available all the way until June, and it’s better to get it late rather than never.

Where at UMD can I get vaccinated?

Flu shots are available right on campus at the Health Center! Students can register for an appointment online, and your health insurance might cover the cost. Just bring your insurance card and/or your University ID! The Health Center can bill your University Bursar Account.It’s so convenient that you have no excuses. So make good use of that awkward gap between classes and go protect yourself from the flu!

Find more information and schedule an appointment on the health center’s website:   http://www.health.umd.edu/flu.

Sources:

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

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