Flu season is often characterized as a time where people are bound to get sick, and, for the most part, people view the flu as an unfortunate inconvenience that has them bedridden for a few days at most. Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, common illnesses such as the flu can cause an array of problems for people who are infected, this year in particular.
In light of the pandemic, IU is now requiring its students and employees who are regularly on campus to get a flu vaccine before Dec. 1. They are also offering the vaccines at no cost to its students this semester, which is an amazing initiative that can ultimately save lives on campus.
It’s great IU is providing and even requiring flu vaccinations for its students this year, and it's essential students take initiative and get a flu vaccine as early as possible.
Getting your flu shot early is the best way to go about getting your vaccination. It takes about two weeks for the antibodies needed to fight the flu to develop in your immune system. If you haven’t scheduled your shot yet, it's something you should consider looking into as soon as you can.
People can be indifferent when it comes to a flu vaccine. It’s a seasonal vaccine, meaning it is only effective on a year-to-year basis. Some people go out of their way to ensure they are vaccinated every year, while others only get it if it’s convenient to do so, such as at a doctor’s appointment or at their place of employment.
Others don’t get the flu vaccine, even when it is convenient to do so. Flu vaccine coverage for adults in the U.S. was 45.3% during the 2018-19 season. Yearly coverage is an important factor in determining the severity of a particular flu season because it indicates how many people already have an immune boost that helps them fight off the disease.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, these common and usually minor diseases like the flu can cause a multitude of issues, primarily the complications that can occur if someone is infected with both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.
If this were to happen, the diseases together can cause respiratory issues and progress to pneumonia, or even respiratory failure. They can have long-term effects on the respiratory system and can inhibit the lung’s ability to absorb oxygen, which affects all the other major organ systems in the body.
A flu shot is an easy and effective way to reduce the chances of becoming seriously ill from these diseases, no matter how old you are. Even if you don’t think you are at risk, this is something that can happen to anyone of any health background.
The flu vaccine protects not only yourself, but also those around you who may not be able to get a vaccination due to other underlying conditions. It boosts your own immune system, and it plays an essential role in herd immunity.
In addition to this, having a large percentage of people getting a flu shot will play a major role in keeping hospitalizations down, and prevent an overwhelmed health care system. This way, people who truly need help get the attention they need, and unnecessary deaths can easily be avoided.
It’s important to stay vigilant during these uncertain times, even though it can be difficult. It may seem like a hassle now to schedule a flu shot, but the preventative actions we take today can save lives tomorrow.
Aidan Kramer (she/her) is a freshman studying microbiology and environmental science. After graduating, she plans to attend medical school and pursue a career in pathology.