New month, new flu season, more vaccines

FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2018, file photo, Ana Martinez, a medical assistant at the Sea Mar Community Health Center, gives a patient a flu shot in Seattle. Researchers found in a study of credit reports that more than 2 percent of adults had medical bills under $200 sent to a collections agency. More than half of the annual medical collections were for less than $600, according to the study, which examined 2016 credit reports for more than 4 million unidentified people. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

As of Aug. 31, flu shots have been available at the Coconino County Public Health Services District Clinic, and they have received an update to immunize people against newer strains of the influenza virus.

The influenza vaccine has been made available at NAU since the university received the vaccine this week. It is offered seasonally to attempt to inoculate the student population against the flu.

NAU Immunization Coordinator Kris Milligan said they offer the flu vaccine as soon as they receive it in order to immunize the student population as fast as possible.

“We start offering it right way before the flu starts getting around and before everyone starts getting sick,” said Milligan.

The NAU Immunization Services planned to reach all students with a vaccination before the flu season hits campus in order to lower the chances of a flu outbreak.

The flu shot is available at Campus Health Services located in the Health and Learning Center. Milligan also explained that flu shot clinics will be set up throughout campus.

“We have a number of flu clinics coming up and going out around campus where we give flu vaccines to students and staff as pop-up clinics,” Milligan said. “So you don’t have to just go into the Health and Learning Center for vaccination.”

The clinics started Sept. 5 and will be open until Nov. 28. The Campus Health Services website provides a full list of each clinic throughout the next two months.

No appointment will be necessary if students plan to receive their flu shots, however, students must bring their insurance card.

Christin Harbinson, junior strategic communication and business major, plans to get her flu shot early this year.

“I want to always get my flu shot because the flu can kill people, and if getting a shot reduces my chances of being put in that dire situation, I am going to do it,” said Harbinson.

She hopes that by getting vaccinated early she will not only be protected from the flu, but won’t be responsible for spreading it either.

There has been a new vaccine made each flu season, which was expected to effectively decrease an individual’s chances of receiving the flu. The flu vaccination has been the main method in protecting people against the virus.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is recommended that people receive a flu vaccination every year.

On their website, the CDC explains updates to the influenza vaccine this year, including an adjustment to make the vaccine resistant to H3N2, a “swine” flu variant.

The nasal spray version of the vaccine was also approved for use instead of getting a shot.

In addition to these changes, the CDC stated that all of the vaccines had been changed to protect against four flu viruses with no trivalent recombinant vaccines. This means the vaccine will not form into any influenza illness because the vaccine being used makes the viruses weakened or inactive.

In previous years, trivalent vaccines were used by the formulation of influenza strains that became prevalent during the previous flu seasons.

This flu season, the age recommendations for several vaccines were drastically altered including the nasal spray version, also known as Fluariz Quadrivelent. The drug is now available for children as young as six months old.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved these changes after the annual recommendations were completed from last year. The age recommendation for other flu vaccines has been altered as well.

Officials from the CDC also approved other options for receiving the vaccine this season. The standard flu shots have been given via hypodermic needle into muscle tissue, which can be painful.

For those between the ages of 18 and 64, they may receive the vaccine through the jet injector method, where a small, high-pressure fluid stream breaks the skin instead of needles.

Regardless of age, everyone can take proper precautions and receive flu shots to protect themselves and those around them.