Not too late to get your flu shot

CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE

Protect yourself and others from the flu

If you haven’t had tissues and bags of cough drops stuffed in your pockets this month, you probably know someone who has. The outbreak of the H3N2 influenza strain has made recent headlines by causing a deadly flu outbreak across the country, with California as a hotspot for infection. California state officials have reported 74 deaths caused by the flu since October — a striking contrast to a death toll of 14 at this same time last year.

But it’s not just the rising death toll that’s a cause for concern. The peak of this year’s outbreak was on average earlier than previous years, with hospitals admitting large numbers of flu patients in early December compared to a usual peak in mid-February. This has left hospitals scrambling to treat a large number of patients sooner than expected. To compensate, medical centers have opened pop-up “flu treatment centers” across the Bay Area and even at the UC Davis Medical Center.

More notably, officials report that this year’s vaccine is a “poor match” against the H3N2 strain. This heightened risk of infection, especially combined with a rising death toll, has left many wondering how they can protect themselves against the flu — especially after being told the vaccine could be ineffective. But therein lies the fallacy; a less effective flu shot does not mean an ineffective flu shot. Vaccinations don’t always prevent infection, but they can mitigate the severity of symptoms when infection does occur.

UC Davis students can get their flu vaccines at a variety of places, including the Student Health and Wellness Center across from the ARC, your local primary physician or pharmacies like CVS and Rite Aid. At the Student Health and Wellness Center, students with the Student Health Insurance Plan can get their flu shots for free by calling the appointment center. Students without SHIP can still receive it for $40.

Similarly, students without insurance can receive a vaccine from a local pharmacy for $40. These pharmacies, as well as primary care physicians, offer free flu shots for students with private insurance.

The Editorial Board encourages readers to take advantage of these resources and to prevent themselves and others from getting sick simply by getting their flu shots. The Editorial Board also urges its readers to keep themselves and their fellow Aggies healthy by practicing simple habits like covering their coughs, frequently washing their hands and, when possible, staying home when sick.

Yes, you can get a flu shot and still get the flu. But even if the success rate is 1 percent, that’s one less person who gets sick — and ultimately, one less person to infect you.

Written by: The Editorial Board