“We know the flu is here,” Interim Director of Health and Public Services Dr. David Harris said. “It’s in our community. It just hasn’t hit big-time on campus yet.”
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If you haven’t gotten your yearly flu shot yet, run, don’t walk, to the Cal Poly Health Center.
According to Dr. Jim Beebe, San Luis Obispo County Public Health lab director, eight people in the county have been hospitalized with the H1N1 flu. These patients range in age from 10 to 79.
Although they are among the first to be seriously affected by the swine flu, they certainly won’t be the last, according to Beebe.
“We’re seeing traditional influenza transmission season starting,” Beebe said. “It’s following classical patterns, so we definitely expect to see the number of people diagnosed rise.”
The flu is most common among the very young and the very old, but this year, people of all ages are getting sick.
And Interim Director of Health and Public Services David Harris says that H1NI seems to make young adults sicker than the rest of the population.
“Ultimately, however, it doesn’t matter if you have H1N1 or other strain of the flu,” he said. “We’re going to treat you for the flu. All the varieties are dangerous.”
So far this year, the Health Center has seen approximately 100 cases. But like Beebe, Harris predicts this is only the beginning.
“We know the flu is here,” he said. “It’s in our community. It just hasn’t hit big-time on campus yet.”
There’s a very simple way to stay healthy: the flu shot.
Cal Poly has been offering $12 inoculations all over campus since last October, yet the number of students who have used the service has been extremely low. Dr. Harris estimates that at the dozen or so clinics held by the Health Center, just 12 to 15 people have come each time.
For a campus of 18,000, that means the Health Center has inoculated a very small minority of students.
“The CDC recommends that 90% of the population get the vaccine,” Harris said. “We’d love to vaccinate everybody, but students think they’re invincible … or just too busy.”
It’s not too late, as the Health Center is still offering vaccines. Students must be 18 years or older to receive one.
And the sooner the better, as it takes two weeks to build immunity after the shot.
“Ultimately, it’s a very easy choice,” Dr. Harris said. “$12. That’s like two Starbucks, versus four to seven days of feeling miserable. The take-home message is everyone should get a flu shot, every year. Period.”