While many are worrying about having to wear a mask and whether or not the vaccine for the coronavirus will be ready in time and safe, another virus is about to begin rearing its ugly head. We are about to enter flu season while still being in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which means taking precautions against the flu is as crucial as ever.
Luckily for Northwest students, the Wellness Center will be offering flu vaccines for a grand total of no money.
The flu has been in the headlines even out of its season because there are some — President Donald Trump among them — who downplayed COVID-19 by equating it to the flu. It’s clearly not, considering it is a completely different virus that has killed more people in the U.S. this year than the flu did in the last five years combined.
Even though it is not as fatal as COVID-19, that doesn’t mean it can be ignored. The flu, while a minor inconvenience to most college students, can prove fatal for the very young and elderly. Around 40 to 50 million people a year contract the flu in the U.S. said Dr. Charles Chiu, an infectious disease expert at the University of California San Francisco.
In a normal year, it is an easy decision to get the flu vaccine. It’s safe and the best method we have available for protecting against the virus. Now it’s even more critical than ever with the coronavirus still raging in the U.S.
You do not want to stack respiratory illnesses, which is why protecting against the flu is so critical. Doctors do not yet know how the flu could affect COVID-19 cases, but they know it won’t be good. Dr. Anthony Fauci, perhaps the most recognizable doctor in America — sorry, Dr. Phil — has said we are in for a “rough winter” with COVID-19 and that it is crucial that people get the flu vaccine in the middle of October.
The possibility of a “twindemic” is very real and could lengthen the amount of time that we are dealing with COVID-19. Hospitals in many areas of the country are being overwhelmed by the coronavirus alone, add the 800,000 or so flu hospitalizations that come with flu season on top of that, and it will only push our nation’s healthcare system further into crisis.
While the message may seem to be getting stale at this point, it’s worth repeating. It’s going to take all of us. The more people that get a flu vaccine from University Wellness, the more people are protected from the flu. With the exception of some rare allergies and being younger than six months old, getting the flu vaccine is a true no-brainer.
Wellness Services will be hosting free flu clinics from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 15 and Oct. 16 in Meeting Room B of the J.W. Jones Student Union. Flu vaccines will also be available by appointment at the Wellness Center.
Wellness Services isn’t the only option for getting your flu shot, but it is by far the cheapest. Maryville Hy-Vee is offering flu shots for $42.99, without insurance, with 20 cents towards your fuel saver card. The Nodaway County Health Department is offering the vaccine for $20 without insurance.
If you are willing to put on a mask to protect others you should be willing to get a vaccine to protect others. If you don’t believe in either one of those things, take a hard look in the mirror.