Get your flu shot before the flu gets you
The influenza vaccine, or flu shot, is offered annually to provide immunity to seasonal influenza viruses. The vaccine is usually offered from late August thru the end of March, when the flu virus is most active and commonly spread. It is never too early or too late in the season to consider getting your flu shot.
Flu shots are labeled as inactivated, meaning that the virus in the vaccine is no longer alive. When administered into the body, they trigger an immune response which causes your immune system to develop antibodies to the virus. Should you be exposed to the influenza virus at a later time, these antibodies will protect you. You may not get sick at all or you may develop a much milder illness than someone who was not vaccinated. It takes about two weeks for your body to fully develop these antibodies.
It is important to know that you cannot get sick from an inactivated virus. You may have had friends tell you that they got the flu right after getting their vaccine and they try to discourage you from getting your flu shot. More than likely, they had already been exposed to the flu virus and the timing was purely coincidental.
Flu shots are usually administered through a needle into the arm. If you have a fear of needles, there is currently a way to administer your flu shot with a much tinier needle that hurts less; however, not all medical offices have these available. A nasal mist is also available, but this contains a live flu virus which some people don’t prefer (nasal mist is not available at Campus Health Services).
Where do I get my flu shot?
Flu shots are available to all NAU students, employees, and employees’ dependents over the age of 18 at Campus Health Services (CHS). To receive a flu shot in the clinic, you must make an appointment – either in person, by phone or (preferably) online. CHS will also host a number of mobile flu vaccine clinics at various locations throughout campus; flu shots will be available on a drop-in basis. Watch our website for more information about mobile clinic dates and times.
The Employee Assistance and Wellness office also holds seasonal flu vaccine clinics on campus.
The Coconino County Public Health Services District also schedules community flu shot clinics.
Fees and payments
Most insurance companies cover the cost of flu shots in full, but plans differ so it is best to check with your insurance company first. If you receive your flu shot at Campus Health Services, we will bill your insurance for you and you will be responsible for any co-payment or deductibles depending on your plan. If you do not have insurance, costs for a flu shot are usually around $25-$40 depending on the type of vaccine you receive.
Is it the cold or the flu?
The virus that causes the common cold is very different from the influenza virus. Cold symptoms are usually milder than flu symptoms and usually involve a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, a mild sore throat, and possibly a slight cough. Flu symptoms usually involve fever and chills, body/muscle aches, extreme fatigue, cough, sore throat, and headache – you feel much worse. Your healthcare provider can perform a nasal swab that can help diagnose the flu.
Cold and flu prevention
These tips will help you stay healthy during cold and flu season:
- Get a flu shot!
- Wash your hands often to prevent the spread of disease
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Don’t share food or drinks with other people
- Cover your mouth and nose—cough and sneeze into a tissue or sleeve to prevent others from getting sick
- Eat nutritious food
- Stay well-hydrated
- Stay physically active; get exercise
- Get plenty of sleep
- Practice stress reduction
- Antibiotics DO NOT cure a cold or the flu