Prepare to fight the flu

Vaccine is available through CMU Health for students, faculty and staff

| Author: ​Jeff Johnston

​It's time to take care: The flu is here.

"We have had several positive flu cases, both the A and B strains," said Jodi Shoebottom, clinical coordinator of health services at CMU Health.

Shoebottom said CMU has a limited supply of flu vaccine, while many flu shot providers have run out already — unusual for this time of year.

"It is promising that more people are getting vaccinated and that they are doing it earlier to help decrease the number of flu cases," she said.

CMU offers flu shots for students by appointment or walk in from 8-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays at Student Health Services, Foust Hall 200. Faculty and staff can receive flu shots at Foust or from 8-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 8-11:30 a.m. Fridays at the Primary and Specialty Services Clinic, 2600 Three Leaves Drive in Mount Pleasant.

Shoebottom said most insurances pay for the flu vaccine.

"We bill insurance for the vaccine, however we suggest you check with your insurance carrier to verify," she said. The clinics also accept cash payment of $35.

If you have questions about billing, call CMU Health at 989-774-6599.

Beyond receiving the flu shot, handwashing with soap and water is the best defense, Shoebottom said.

Flu questions and answers

Influenza is a respiratory illness characterized by fever; headache; chills; body aches; and sometimes coughing, sore throat, sneezing and weakness. Symptoms tend to come on quickly. Flu viruses typically circulate in the United States annually, most commonly from late fall through early spring.

The flu can cause serious illness, hospitalization and death — particularly among older adults, very young children, pregnant women and those with certain chronic medical conditions. Here's more information from health services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Can I get sick or develop flu symptoms from the vaccine? You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. Some first-time vaccine recipients can get a low-grade fever and body aches that may last one to three days.
  • What should I do if I think I have the flu? If you have symptoms of flu, you should see a medical provider.
  • How about medication? Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics, which are not effective against the flu. Antiviral drugs can make illnesses milder and shorten the time you are sick. They also may prevent serious flu complications. For people with high-risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
  • Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when you start them within two days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if you have a high-risk health condition or are very sick from the flu. Follow your doctor's instructions.
  • Should I go to work or class if I'm sick? No. While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. You need to be free of a fever for 24 hours before returning to work or school.
  • In addition to washing hands and getting a flu shot, what else can I do to avoid the flu? Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If soap and water are not available for hand washing, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
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