Flu Season is Coming to a Close, Should You Still Get Your Flu Shot?

By: Brianna Beaumont and Cristian Scovell

Flu season may be winding down, but medical experts are still recommending for everyone to get their flu shot. The New York State Department of Health says there have been more than 6,000 cases of the flu reported in Nassau and Suffolk counties throughout this season. A majority of those cases were Influenza B, which the vaccine does not treat. This year’s flu has been categorized as more intense than any of the past few years.

Public health expert Martine Hackett said, “It is best to get a flu shot before the season begins, but it is still effective to get one even in the middle or towards the end of the season, as long as the virus is still circulating.” Hackett is an assistant professor with a master of public health and community health at Hofstra University and her recent research has focused on the 2017-18 flu season. “Everyone over 6 months should get a flu shot! It is the best way to prevent transmission and minimize the symptoms of the flu,” she said.

“This year’s strain of the flu virus actually included several different types, some of which were not responsive to the flu vaccine. Severity is measured by the CDC as: visits to clinics for flu symptoms, rates of flu hospitalizations and number of deaths due to flu or related diseases,” Hackett said.  “There have been more of all of those factors during this flu season than in the last few years.”

According to Hackett, there are certain people who should not get the shot. “People who have severe life-threatening allergies, especially to eggs (used to create the vaccine) may not be advised to get the vaccine. The best preventative measure is to wash your hands and to stay out of close contact with someone who has the flu,” said Hackett.

 

Close Quarters Makes it Easier to Get Sick

Despite the expert advice, many college students have decided not to get the flu shot. Some put it down to their schedules: “It is hard with timing to get the flu shot when you’re in college,” said Godriel Roman, freshman at Adelphi University.  But others, like Adelphi senior Richard Bedhard share a common misconception that the flu shot will give them the flu, despite advice to the contrary from the CDC. “Never got the flu or the flu shot. You’re injecting people with the flu, so people with weaknesses may actually get sick by exposing them to it,” says Bedhard. 

 

And then there are the people, like Adelphi sophomore Marissa Campano, who got sick despite getting the shot. But, she still believes that people should get vaccinated. “People should get it, but people should spend more time on it [the flu vaccine] and make it more effective so it will work on everyone.” She’s not alone. “I got it before and I got sick, but I wish I got it recently because of how strong it is now and I live on campus so everyone gets it and it travels round,” Lila Woodbridge, Adelphi sophomore said.

Hackett said to look out for the common symptoms if you think you might have the flu. “Hospitalization is needed when these symptoms develop into complications including pneumonia, infections, and worsening of underlying health conditions such as asthma and diabetes.

Current State of the Flu

So, even though flu season has peaked, the flu shot is still vital as Long Island’s flu activity continues to be reported as widespread.  Time is running out to get your flu shot at pharmacy chains throughout the area but CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, and Rite Aid are a few that are still giving the flu shot.