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Flu Shot: Believe Us or Not

Body pain, runny nose, fever and coughing  — that’s how most Americans describe the flu to their bosses and their teachers when they are calling in sick.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the flu virus can start as early as October, hit its peak around January, and last until May.

Experts report that just this year alone, some 200 Californians have died due to the N1H1 virus, and about 36,000 Americans total die from the flu each year. Still, for some reason people hesitate when it comes to getting a flu vaccine.

“The vaccine works by triggering your antibodies’ response,” said Professor Jack Sahl, from UCLA’s Department of Epidemiology. “The vaccine pre-primes the pump, if you would, so that your body is able to respond when faced with the actual disease.”

Every flu season requires a different vaccine, said CSUN Health Sciences Professor Sloane Burke. “Basically a team of researchers looks at the top viruses and they can predict what will be the top virus that needs to go into that vaccine.”

The flu vaccination causes that year’s antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after a person gets vaccinated. Those antibodies then provide protection against that year’s influenza infection.

The most common misconception holding people back from rolling up their sleeves to get the shot, is that the vaccine itself will make them sick.

“It’s actually entirely a myth,” Burke said. “Now, you may have a different strain of the flu, or you may have a different bacterial infection all together,” but the doctors agree that any symptoms people feel after getting a flu shot are a coincidence.

“You go in and say, hey I’m going to get the flu vaccine,” Sahl said, “and then you get the flu vaccine, and now you are really focused on signs and symptoms, and you may just have a runny nose or other types of infection, but in your mind you’ve added the two things together.”

Sahl added that if someone already has the flu, getting the flu shot will not help, but both doctors said it was not too late to get a shot to protect against this year’s virus.

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for anyone age six months and older.

“We are all susceptible to the flu,” Burke said. “Even a younger, healthy, thriving population is susceptible.”

CSUN’s Klotz Health Center provides vaccinations to students, and the CDC offers a free application for finding the closest flu vaccination center.

Producer: Jennifer Rufer

Moderator: Dylan Connolly

Anchor: Evanne Robinson

Reporters: Esmi Careaga, Alex Milojkovich and Natalie Palacios

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