WKU encourages community to fight the flu

Bowling Green graduate student Emily Burns prepares to get a flu shot from nurse Chandra Ellis-Griffith at the academic complex on Jan. 30. Free flu shots were offered in the academic complex by the WKU Institute for Rural Health.

WKU and Graves Gilbert Clinic sent an email to the WKU community encouraging all students, faculty and staff to get the flu vaccine in order to prevent spreading the virus on campus.

Graves Gilbert Clinic is offering flu vaccines for free with insurance or for $45 without insurance, according to a joint email sent from Juliana Pace, practice manager at Graves Gilbert, and Steve Rey, director of intramural recreational sports.   

“With the beginning of the 2018 Spring Semester upon us it is time to make sure that we help minimize the spread of Flu on our campus which has been well documented in our local community and throughout the commonwealth,” the email read.

The vaccine will not make recipients sick because the flu shot is a dead virus, according to the email.

“People who get the flu vaccine still may get one of the strands and get sick but will have significantly milder symptoms,” the email read.

Areport from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the vaccine can reduce the risk of the flu by 40 to 60 percent “when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine.” If the vaccine is not well matched to the virus, then recipients may not receive any benefit from the vaccine, according to the CDC website.

“During years when there is a good match between the flu vaccine and circulating viruses, it is possible to measure substantial benefits from flu vaccination in terms of preventing flu illness,” according to the CDC. “However, even during years when the flu vaccine match is good, the benefits of flu vaccination will vary, depending on various factors like the characteristics of the person being vaccinated, what influenza viruses are circulating that season and even, potentially, which flu vaccine was used.”

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services recently sent out a press release describing the flu in Kentucky as an “epidemic.” Kentucky has had six consecutive weeks of widespread flu activity, which “indicates increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state.”

So far the deaths of 65 Kentuckians have been attributed to the flu this season, according to the press release. The deaths have not been confined to just the young and elderly; 7 percent of the deaths have occurred in previously healthy individuals who had no known risk factors for contracting a serious illness, according to the release. The cabinet is encouraging healthy individuals over 6 months old to get the flu vaccine.

Pace and Rey included the following prevention tips and symptoms in an email:

Flu Prevention:

  • Clean/wash your hands with soap and hand sanitizer regularly!
  • Cover your cough
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Practice other good health habits
  • Clean and sanitize workspaces

Common Symptoms of the Flu:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults

Most people who get the flu don’t need medical attention, according to the email. People who are in a high-risk group, including young children, elderly adults and pregnant women, or who are very sick should seek medical assistance. If a person is in a high-risk group and shows signs of the flu, he or she should contact a doctor as early as possible.

“In addition, we encourage you to support students, faculty and staff who are sick to not attend class to help minimize the spread of the flu,” the email read. 

Anyone interested in getting a flu vaccine can contact the Graves Gilbert Clinic.

News reporter Emma Collins can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow Emma on Twitter at @_mccain_emma_.