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Early flu season spreads to students

Sophomore Biology major Nicolaus Coleman catches the seasonal flu.

Sophomore Biology major Nicolaus Coleman catches the seasonal flu.

Aj Leone

Aj Leone

Sophomore Biology major Nicolaus Coleman catches the seasonal flu.

Rabiya Hussain, Assistant News Editor

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Cal State Long Beach senior health science major Ana Gutierrez looks forward to the holiday season every year. It’s a time to make some extra money by working the extended holiday hours and a time to receive lots of gifts.

This year, however, Gutierrez received a gift she wasn’t expecting. It started with a headache and then morphed into a sore throat and sniffles. Gutierrez’s gift was the flu.

“I was in bed for two days straight,” Gutierrez said. “I was aching all over. The only time I got out of bed was to eat and drink, and then it was back to sleep.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this year’s flu season is off to an early start.

“The timing of the flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States in January or February,” according to the CDC website. “[However, by the second week of January,] the flu activity was high across most of the United States.”

 So far, the CDC has reported almost 30,000 cases of the flu nationwide from Sept. 30, 2012, through the second week of January 2013.

“It is not possible to predict when the season will peak or how severe [this] season will be, but based on past experience, it’s likely that flu activity will continue for some time,” the CDC website said.

  Since the start of this year’s flu season, the CDC has been urging people to get the flu vaccination, citing it as the best way to avoid the flu.

 However, many people, such as junior international studies major Ambar Rivera, remain apprehensive.

“Each time I get the flu shot, I get sick; and when I don’t get the flu shot, I don’t get sick,” Rivera said. “Last year, I finally got annoyed because I got the flu shot, since I work in retail, and I didn’t want to get sick, but I ended up getting sick anyway and had to miss a lot of work. So I decided I’m not going to do it anymore.”

Instead, Rivera said she tries to keep herself healthy by practicing good hygiene, and so far this flu season it has worked.

“Both my baby brother and sister were sick over the break, but I managed not to catch it,” Rivera said. “I washed my hands constantly and used [sanitizers] all over the house.”

However, Coordinator of the Health Resource Center Heidi Burkey said she highly encourages people to get the flu shot.

“Some people think that the flu is not serious; however, for children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic conditions … getting the flu can have very severe outcomes,” Burkey said via email.

Burkey also said there is a great deal of misinformation among people regarding the flu vaccine.

 “The flu shot cannot give you the flu,” she said. “The flu shot is not made with a live virus, thus it cannot give you the flu. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective. Thus you can still catch the flu during that time.”

Since fall 2012, Burkey said the Student Health Services has dispensed about 550 flu vaccinations and will be hosting a flu shot clinic from 1 to 5 p.m. on Thursday at the University Student Union Ballrooms. The flu shot will be available to Cal State Long Beach students, faculty and staff for $15.

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