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What You Need to Know About the Flu

- By Tishya Robertson, Staff Writer -

Flu season is upon us, and there are a few types of people: those who are flu survivors making up for the work they missed, people who aren’t thinking about the flu at all, and those who are frantically washing their hands and taking vitamin C more often than necessary. Unfortunately, Meredith College is not immune to the flu. Here are some common questions about the flu, answered by Dr. Mary Johnson, Director of Health Services.

Is it too late to get the flu shot?

No, it’s never too late! You may have some trouble finding the vaccine right now because it is late in the season, but call a few local pharmacies to get one.

What strains are covered by the flu shot and who even decides that?

Twice a year, the World Health Organization meets with representatives of key national laboratories and academies. They review the results of flu studies and the availability of vaccine viruses, then make recommendations on the composition of the influenza vaccine. Meetings take place in February for the selection of the upcoming Northern Hemisphere’s seasonal influenza vaccine and in September for the Southern Hemisphere’s vaccine. WHO recommends specific vaccine viruses for inclusion in influenza vaccines, but then each country makes their own decision about which viruses should be included for their country. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration makes the final decision about flu vaccines in the U.S. every February.

There are even two kinds of flu vaccines: trivalent and quadrivalent. The trivalent one protects against three strains of the virus: H1N1, H3N2, and the Victoria lineage of the B virus. The quadrivalent one (that Meredith offered) contains the same strains as the trivalent shot plus the Yamagata lineage of the B virus. Although the trivalent one is cheaper, the vaccine offered varies depending on where you get it.

Does the flu shot cause the flu?

No. Unfortunately, people assume that because they got sick after getting the vaccine, the shot caused their illness. The vaccine is made from inactivated virus and it cannot transmit infection. People that develop an illness after receiving a flu vaccination were likely going to get sick anyway. It can take up to two weeks to get protection from the vaccine. The purpose of a flu shot is to expose your body to a non-infectious version of the virus so your body can develop protective antibodies without you having to battle the actual flu.

How can you stay well during flu season?

Wash your hands. Stay away from people who are sick. Take Vitamin C and Zinc. Get a good night’s sleep. Decrease your stress levels. Exercise. Eat healthy. Wash your hands!

Can you get the flu more than once a year?

While rare, it is possible to get one of the strains of the flu and then contract the another strain as there are many influenza virus strains active each season.

For more information about the flu and other wellness topics, check our Student Health 101 at and follow @SH101atMeredith on Instagram. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, visit the Health Center in the first floor of Carroll Hall.

*These questions were submitted by students and faculty on January 31, 2018.


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