With all the media attention focused on the spread of the novel H1N1 influenza virus, it’s easy to forget that the seasonal flu is just around the corner.
“Influenza this year is not likely to be a one-hit wonder,” says Dr. Mary Bengtson, medical director of Student Health Services.
That’s right, there may be two types of flu going around in the coming months, H1N1 and a seasonal variety. If you don’t get vaccinated, you risk coming down with either or – if you’re really unlucky – both. What you may not realize is that you have to get two separate flu shots. The vaccine that will protect you against H1N1, due out in mid-October, won’t keep you from picking up the seasonal flu. And vice versa.
The good news is that seasonal flu shots will be available on campus for faculty and staff starting Tuesday, Sept. 29. You can get the vaccination free under the State Health Plan; just show your insurance ID card when you get your shot.
Bengtson says to remember that flu isn’t unique to NC State, it’s in the community. So even if you work all by yourself in a quiet, little office, you still need to get your flu shots. And the seasonal flu is nothing to sneeze at. In an average year, flu is responsible for 200,000 related hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths.
Symptoms of flu may include fever over 100, sore throat, cough, stuffy or runny nose, fatigue, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If you come down with flu symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you remain at home until at least 24 hours after you are free of fever (100 degrees) or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. If your symptoms are more than mild, if you have a medical condition that puts you at high risk for complications (such as pregnancy, diabetes, asthma, or other conditions), or if your diagnosis is not certain, contact your health care provider.