Flu season is coming, but vaccinations are helping to prepare students for the highly contagious illness. This week, Oct. 22 to Oct. 26, many West Henderson students, teachers and administrators are choosing to get their flu shot in the gym to help them stay healthy this season.

According to school nurse Amy Chandler, vaccines are necessary in order to protect not only the person getting them, but the people around them.

“The flu causes lots of significant illnesses in people who are well, and healthy individuals, but it also affects people who are around the elderly or young infants,” Chandler said. “Keeping yourself healthy and flu-free this season is important. The flu also causes people to miss a lot of school, and you can miss up to five days from being sick, and that’s a lot for a high schooler. It is really important that you keep yourself well and protect as best you can from the flu this year.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 200,000 people are hospitalized due to influenza annually, and between 3,000 and 49,000 people die from the illness. It is especially dangerous for the elderly and infants to be exposed to the flu, because in older people, the virus can exhaust their bodies, making them susceptible to other complications that can be life-threatening for their weaker immune systems. Infants don’t have strong immune systems yet, so the flu can be dangerous to them as well.

Many students at West do not have access to other places where they can receive the vaccination.

“[Getting your flu shot at school] is much more convenient, and we bill insurances just like you would if you went to a CVS or Target, but getting it during the school day prevents you from having to make another extra trip,” Chandler said. “It’s also quick and easy, and also supports your local health department. It’s a great service that we are able to provide, so that it’s easier for parents and easier for students to get it during the school day.”

Until the virus starts spreading, the CDC does not know what strain of flu is going to be going around or how severe it will be.

“It would be nice if we had a crystal ball and we knew how well we were going to be protected. Every year it’s somewhat of a guess as to how well the vaccine is going to cover,” Chandler said. “A lot of times, they look at how bad the flu season is in Australia to see what it’s going to be like here because their winter is before ours, and we can kind of see what it will be like here. We can just hope that it’s not going to be that bad.”

Monday, Oct. 22, at 9:15 a.m, students and teachers began to line up in the new gym to get their vaccines, and then received a piece of candy after they got their shot.

“I don’t enjoy needles and my arm really hurts now, but I’d rather have it done than not,” sophomore Maci Anthony said.

According to Chandler, the flu shot is the most effective way to prevent getting the virus, but people can also protect themselves by thoroughly washing their hands as frequently as they can.

“Hand-washing is key, and not just with hand sanitizer, but soap and water too. That’s really the key thing. If you touch your face or your nose, make sure that you’re washing your hands, and if you’re running a fever, or have been sick within the last 24 hours, stay home. That helps to prevent,” Chandler said. “I know there is a lot of pressure to be in class and school, but you run the risk of making everyone else sick, so if you’re sick, we want you to stay home.”

By: Allison Caskey, Feature Writer

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