The return of fall also brings the return of flu season, and pharmacies everywhere are beginning to advertise and administer flu vaccinations in preparation for the annual outbreak of influenza.
“I strongly agree that they’re necessary, especially for the elderly and the children. I think it does give them quite a bit of protection,” said Jigna Patel, a pharmacist at Twin Oaks Pharmacy in Lubbock.
Patel said the peak season for flu is between November and February.
“I don’t believe that people should get their shots way too early ‘cause the flu does last all the way up until March, April sometimes,” she said. “I always recommend to get flu shots starting in October, even though lots of pharmacies start advertising them in September. This way, the shot will last the entire season.”
Patel said sometimes the vaccines protect against all strains of the flu throughout the entire season, even as the virus mutates.
She said the virus sometimes randomly mutates midway through the season, although it is rare.
“Anybody that’s going to be in large crowds or enclosed areas, you know, they’re more susceptible to getting the virus,” Patel said.
She said she encouraged people looking to get vaccinated to weigh the benefits and risks of getting vaccinated, especially those with an egg allergy or people who have had bad reactions to flu shots in the past.
Patel said people with egg allergies may have a reaction to flu shots because the vaccines may contain egg proteins.
She said the nasal spray isn’t any different than the shot, except the spray is slightly more expensive and mainly is used on young children.
The Texas Department of State Health Services also listed vaccination as its No. 1 step in preventing the spread of the flu.
Washing hands, staying home if sick and covering sneezes and coughs were the other preventative steps, according to the website.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website features key flu facts, including the window for contagiousness and possible complications from the flu.
According to the CDC, a person can infect others one day before showing symptoms and up to seven days after becoming sick.
There are several flu vaccines available for the fall flu season, including one that protects against four strains of the flu, although the CDC does not recommend one vaccine instead another, but instead encourages people to get vaccinated every year.
Nathan Fox, a freshman marketing major from McKinney, said he isn’t worried about getting the flu and has never had the flu before.
Fox said he is generally very sanitary and is good at remembering to wash his hands and shower frequently.
“Really Tech campus is really sanitary, I feel,” he said, explaining how he believes this makes him less prone to catching the flu.
Fox said he is on the drum line and, although he doesn’t get sick frequently, the flu still impacts his life because when other members of the drum line are ill, it makes it harder to perform as a unit.
The Texas Department of State Health Services website has a flu vaccine locator that uses a ZIP code to locate the nearest vaccine retailer. The website also has symptoms lists and tips for caring for those who have contracted the flu.