Every year, millions of people in the United States contract influenza (“the flu”). Hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized for the flu each year and thousands die from it. You can help prevent the spread of this virus–and protect yourself from it–by getting a flu vaccine every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that all people aged six months and older need to get the vaccine.
As a reference librarian, I come into contact with many people every day at work. I make sure to get my flu shot every year, I wash my hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer after handling things other people have handled. I avoid contact with sick people.
The flu is a respiratory virus that causes “mild to severe illness … [o]lder people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.” The vaccine is available as a shot or as a nasal spray. Most people need the trivalent vaccine, which is typically covered by health insurance. Otherwise, you can expect to pay around $30 for it. If this sounds expensive, consider that symptoms of the flu can last a few days to a couple weeks, can cause you to miss work and even send you to the hospital!
There are a few people who cannot take the flu vaccine, most notably very young infants. It is therefore critical to get the vaccine if you have a very young child or spend time among people who cannot take the vaccine. Collectively, the more people who get vaccinated, the less the influenza virus will spread, which is known as “community immunity” or “herd immunity.”
Here are some links to reliable, comprehensive information about the flu:
- CDC Flu Basics
- Find a flu vaccine (Search on the address “E. Lawson St., Durham, NC 27703” to find locations near the DTCC main campus where you can get the flu shot. Be sure to un-check all choices under “vaccines” except for “Flu.”)
- People at High Risk of Developing Flu–Related Complications (CDC)
- Map: Cold and Flu Symptoms Across the U.S. (WebMD.com)
- Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center (WebMD.com)