Twiford: The Importance of Flu Prevention During COVID

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Due to the higher-than-average number of cases so early in the season, the CDC predicts that the coming winter months will bring with them a particularly severe flu season. It will be compounded by the heightened risk of more COVID-19 outbreaks and the typical rise in other respiratory viruses that often accompany colder months. This makes it more important than ever to receive a flu vaccine, not only to protect yourself but the rest of the student body, the faculty, staff and even the wider Glassboro community as well. 

The flu can become incredibly severe in some cases, particularly in the elderly and those with immunodeficiencies, but even young people with healthy immune systems can suffer complications from the flu. Flu shots can reduce such risks, lowering the risk of ICU admission by 26% and the risk of death by 31%. 

On a less grave yet still important level, students becoming ill will likely mean having to be absent from at least a few class sessions. Though this may not seem like too big of a deal, it can still put a student significantly behind in their coursework and notes. Conversely, going to class while sick risks the health and well-being of the professor and all other students in the class. 

The vaccine for the flu has other, more surprising benefits as well. Early research from The University of Texas Health Science center at Houston suggests that receiving the flu vaccine, particularly if the vaccines are received regularly, is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Though the research has not been fully conclusive, in my opinion, the early evidence is still enough to consider this a benefit of getting the shot annually. 

Even individuals with a severe phobia of needles such as myself should be able to weigh the risks of the flu and the benefits of the vaccine and find it within themselves to get their annual vaccination. 

The university has offered free flu shots throughout the month of October, though there has been no word yet on if this will continue into the next month. However, several pharmacies such as Rite Aid and Walgreens do offer low-to-cost vaccinations at this time of year as well, should insurance or price be a roadblock. 

After over two years in a pandemic, it may seem tiring to see recommendations for more vaccinations, but it truly is the best way to prevent falling ill or spreading the flu to those around you. Especially with the large number of people the average student will come into contact with throughout the day, as well as the increased risk of spread from the conditions of student housing, it is imperative that as many students as possible receive their vaccinations this flu season. 

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