A high fever burns the forehead. Aching muscles irritate the body. These are some of the symptoms people experience before realizing they have the flu.
With flu season creeping up on USF students, the Student Health Services is making flu shots available to students who want to prepare for the epidemic.
“The influenza vaccination is created by an interesting series of steps,” said Egilda Terenzi, M.D., director of Student Health Services.
In February and March, epidemiologists collectively predict what strains of flu will be infecting the world in the upcoming flu season.
They gather the three most prevalent strains and send them to the pharmaceutical companies that make the flu injections, Terenzi said.
In June, the vaccination is made. And by September, it is distributed and then administered in October and November.
“It has been a pretty accurate predictor of the virus over the years,” Terenzi said. “It has been a long time since the epidemiologists have been wrong out of the three strains of the virus.”
The flu shot is a dead virus, according to Terenzi, but a patient cannot actually get the flu from the injection. The vaccination solely provides the patient’s body with the ability to make the appropriate antibodies to fight infections.
“So if a student thinks he or she will get the flu from the shot, they are wrong,” Terenzi said.
SHS administers the flu shot to about 40-50 students daily, according to Nurse Becky Hayes, L.P.N.
“Viruses are airborne, so anybody can get the flu,” she said.
Hayes said patients can be out of commission from a week to 10 days, and those with illnesses such as diabetes will suffer even more, so prevention is key to not get sick.
The flu virus will leave a patient with a fever, an aching body, runny nose, and an overall sense of fatigue.
The only side effect of the injection is a tender arm muscle where the shot was given which lasts for a few days.
The shot should be administered annually, Terenzi said. It takes two weeks for the body to begin developing immunities once the shot has been administered. However, the injection will last throughout flu season.
Terenzi advises students to get the shot in order to have the energy to complete daily routines.
“Students’ lifestyles are such that they are busy, stressed and don’t eat as well as (they) should,” Terenzi said. “Students are often working and going to school. Poor nutrition and poor sleeping habits all contribute to a challenged immune system.”
SHS wants to support healthy immune systems as best as it can,
Terenzi the flu can spread easily, especially in resident halls because communal living in general promotes the spread of disease.
“We really stress hand washing and other healthy habits, especially good eating practices during the cold and flu season of winter time.
“We don’t normally offer immunizations to faculty and staff but we want to keep influenza off this campus,” Terenzi said. “And if a professor is debilitated from an awful disease like the flu, he or she can’t teach his or her classes.”
SHS is offering flu shots Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost of the shot is $10 for students and $20 for faculty and staff members.