Opinion | It’s not too late to get your flu shot

By Tommy Block, Senior Columnist

Temperatures dipped last week, and it seems like everybody’s health did the same. There was so much coughing in the Illini Union that I thought I had accidentally stumbled into the infirmary. 

Just because we’re almost done with winter doesn’t mean viruses are. We’re not out of the clear yet, and until we know for sure that we are, we have to take every precaution we can to ward off disease, for our safety and others.

Heck, I wouldn’t mind if you only did something for my safety. I’m sick of being sick. My roommates and I usually welcome the company, but the flu recently wrapped up an extended stay at our apartment, and let me tell you: that is one horrible house guest.

One by one, each of us fell prey to a relentless case of the sniffles. Five boxes of tissues were among the casualties. While we weren’t sure how many of us had the flu, it became clear that the flu vaccination had slipped our minds this winter. I guess our immune systems had sent us all an overdue reminder.

It was in that miserable, groggy state that I did some research, probably because I was too lethargic to do anything else. Annually, the “flu season” lingers primarily around the cold months of the year, stretching from as early as October to as late as April. The illness, as you know, is contagious; just by touching a tomato at the grocery store, you could risk scooping up leftover germs from sick customers. 

This kind of behavior is what causes the flu to be trendy in the worst way possible. As of last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 22 million flu cases have occurred this season.

Thoroughly washing your hands is a basic courtesy for others, though I dearly hope you don’t need anyone to tell you that. Staying home when you’re sick is also key to a community’s health; your friends like you, but they hate your germs more. 

However, a more critical point may be the less obvious one: It is not too late to get your flu shot. As long as the flu is still around, getting vaccinated can keep you and others from falling under the weather, even if the influenza virus only has a month or two left before it dies down for the year.

The McKinley Health Center is still offering flu shots on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You don’t need to make an appointment, and you’ll probably end up in and out in twenty minutes. If you’re a student, it’s all free of charge. A little fee shouldn’t decide whether you choose to protect yourself against the flu, but then again, I know someone who once ran (with his two feet) halfway across campus to get some complimentary stir fry at PAR. Free never hurts.

The Flu Clinic’s doors are still open. Getting your flu shot now is like submitting a late assignment. Take care of it, and you may get some partial credit in the form of immunity.

Tommy is a senior in Engineering.

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