What's New with the Flu?

By Kim L. Miller MD, Staff Physician, Health Services, McGrath Health and Wellness Center

As the leaves start to fall and the weather turns cooler, our thoughts turn to fall football, apple cider and influenza. Yes, flu season is upon us again. Starting in early October and lasting through the spring, flu season typically peaks in January or February. However, it is never too early to begin planning our flu prevention strategy.

Flu viruses are constantly changing. We don’t know which flu strains will be active this season, but scientists work diligently to come up with a prediction and include the most likely strains in the new flu vaccine. This is why we need to be vaccinated against influenza every year, not just once.

CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the three or four main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. Getting the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available each year is always a good idea, and the protection you get from vaccination will last throughout the flu season.

New this year:  We are now offering FluMist Quadrivalent, a live attenuated vaccine delivered in a convenient nasal spray.  Any healthy person ages 2 – 50 is eligible to receive FluMist instead of the traditional flu shot.  

Flumist will be available at the health fair in Gallagher Student Center on Wednesday, October 1, from 11 AM to 2 PM.  It is also available by calling Health Services at 513-745-3022 and making an appointment with the nurse for flu vaccination. The Flumist is $30 and will be billed to the student’s bursar account.

While not for everyone, FluMist offers an effective and needle-free alternative to a flu shot.  Check here for complete information: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/nasalspray.htm

Traditional trivalent flu shots will be available by appointment at the McGrath Health and Wellness Center by early November.  Appointments can be made by calling (513) 745-3022. The charge is $22 and can be put on the student bursar bill. 

Vaccination is the cornerstone of flu prevention, but everyday actions can help prevent flu and keep you and your family healthy as well:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, uses an alcohol-based hand rub (sanitizer). Why not include the pocket-sized ones in your next care package?