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Flu Vaccination

Addison Miller

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 One of the worst flu seasons on record has swept the country this winter.  Flu season is loosely defined as beginning in fall, peaking near the end of the year, and sometimes lasting until as late as May.  According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, approximately 56,000 people nationwide have died due to the influenza virus during this 2017-2018 season. With roughly one-quarter of flu season still remaining, the Carl Junction School District has already had a record number of students absent due to flu infection. When someone begins to feel “flu-like,” an important question arises: is it a cold or the flu?  

 Both a cold and the flu begin with a wet or dry cough, body aches, chills, fatigue, a runny nose, and a sore throat.  It is generally accepted that, in cases of the flu, the symptoms are much more severe. Students who visit their doctor can be quickly diagnosed with a flu infection being either confirmed or ruled-out via a quick and easy test. This test identifies the presence or absence of the flu virus and,if present, whether the flu virus is type A or B.  If diagnosed early, medications can be given to lessen the severity of an influenza infection. There have been 79,362 laboratory confirmed influenza cases in Missouri, according to the MDHHS: 59,390 type A cases, 18,406 type B, and 1,066 untyped cases. The flu virus has over 140 different variations (strains) so developing an effective flu vaccine each year can be quite a challenge. Doctors must look at what types of flu are occurring in other parts of the world and make an educated guess for what strains are likely to come to the US.  It is impossible to develop a vaccine that covers all the strains that may find their way to our country. This makes the “guess” all the more critical.

 Unfortunately, this year’s shot isn’t very effective, as the expected strains were not the ones that arrived.  Despite this fact, it remains safer to get vaccinated, as the vaccine still provides some limited protections. It is still in your best interest to head over to your doctor’s office or local pharmacy to get your flu shot, according to the CDC.


 Most health insurance will cover the cost of the vaccination. Even without insurance, a flu shot only costs between $30-$40. Contracting the flu can conceivably cost the individual from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on everything from medication prices to hospital bills. The flu is a very serious disease for some people, but its effects can be greatly reduced or totally avoided with a simple and safe vaccination. So even if you skipped it this year, please consider getting vaccinated in the future!

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Flu Vaccination