Q&A: Behind the flu shot with the Klotz Center

drawing with achooo written on left and shouldve washed your hands in a thought bubble
300 dpi Chris Ware illustration of related to flu season. (Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT)

It’s flu season again and commercials, as well as advertisements, are popping up everywhere advocating for the flu shot .

The Center of Disease and Control recommends those over six months old get the flu shot every year, but less than half of Americans do.

“I find it unnecessary for myself,” senior marketing student Tracey Juhnke said. “It’s more necessary for babies or older people, so I’ll leave it for them.”

Do young and healthy people need to get the flu shot? Can the shot make you sick? What exactly is it?

The Sundial interviewed the Klotz Center’s nursing and clinical support unit supervisor, Mercedes Gallup, on all things flu.

What is the flu shot?

The flu shot contains strains of dead influenza virus that mimic the live virus. When the vaccine enters the body, the body recognizes it as foreign and learns how to react to it, building a defense against it. The next time you’re exposed to that virus, the body can fight it or decrease the severity.

There are hundreds of strains of influenza. Each year, scientists predict which strains are going to be strongest the next season and make the vaccine based on that prediction.

Why get it?

It’s recommended to get the shot each year because each year the strains in the vaccine change. The idea is to build a defense to a variety of flu virus strains by getting the shot each year.

Children, the elderly and those with autoimmune disorders are the most impacted by the effects of influenza but young and healthy people should still get the flu shot. If you’re not vaccinated you’re putting others at risk. Young and healthy people may recover, but others may not.

Can the vaccine make you sick?

The flu shot cannot give you the flu, it does not contain live viruses. It takes two weeks for the body to build an immunity to the vaccine. Within those two weeks, you can still catch the flu, but it is not associated with the vaccine. Often people will get their flu shot late into the season when they’ve already been exposed to flu viruses, or they experience mild side effects that they mistake for the flu.

Prevention tips:

  • Get the flu shot
  • Wash hands frequently throughout flu season
  • Use hand sanitizer
  • Social distancing – if you have the flu, stay home. If you’re in public, give six feet of distance between you and the next person.
  • Eat well
  • Sleep well
  • Exercise
  • Decrease alcohol intake
  • Decrease smoking
  • Work on happiness levels

Where to get the flu shot:

The Klotz Center offers the flu shot at $15 for students and $20 for faculty. You can visit the Klotz Center or call (818)677-3666 to make an appointment.

Here is a map of flu shot clinics around campus.