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This version of NSU News has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of NSU News, visit news.nova.edu.

This version of SharkBytes has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of SharkBytes, visit sharkbytes.nova.edu.

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Contact

Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796

nova.edu/prmc

SharkBytes Archives

Contact

Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796

(954) 262-5353
(800) 541-6682 x25353
Fax: (954) 262-3954
communications@nova.edu

Information on Flu Vaccines and Prevention

Bindu S. Mayi, M.Sc., Ph.D., professor of microbiology at NSU’s College of Medical Sciences

Bindu S. Mayi, M.Sc., Ph.D., professor of microbiology at NSU’s College of Medical Sciences educates people to get their flu vaccination.

As we head into flu season it is worth remembering that last year’s flu resulted in more than 900,000 hospitalizations and over 80,000 deaths in the United States alone. These numbers reveal the potential severity of flu in any given year and emphasize the importance of prevention, the most effective being vaccination – the art and science of building immunity against an infection without making you ill from that infection. We are fortunate that NSU offers flu shots at one of seven different locations on campus. But there are so many vaccines and how do you know which one’s the right one for you?

If you are 65 or older, you may get the Fluzone high-dose vaccine or Fluad, both of which are designed to elicit a robust response from the recipient and protect you against three different Flu virus strains in circulation this year. If you want to avoid vaccines made in eggs, then you have two choices for protection against four Flu virus strains: (1) Flublok, an inactivated vaccine FDA approved for people 18 years and older and (2) Flucelvax, also an inactivated vaccine, approved for people 4 years and older. I chose to get Flublok at the NSU Pharmacy because of the scientific finding that last season’s low vaccine efficacy may have been due to H3N2 Flu virus mutating while being cultivated in eggs, which are the traditional manufacturing mode for flu vaccines. H3N2 is in circulation again this year, which is why all the current vaccines contain this Flu virus strain! If you don’t care for all the latest science news and just want to get a flu shot, you have one of five choices in different formulations for different age groups, starting at 6 months of age and going all the way up to 65 years: Afluria trivalent, Afluria Quadrivalent, Fluarix Quadrivalent, FluLaval Quadrivalent, and Fluzone Quadrivalent. The only live vaccine we have available is FluMist, for use in non-pregnant individuals, 2 – 49 years old. FluMist was discouraged the past two flu seasons because of the abysmally low vaccine efficacy, but certain changes made to the vaccine this year may have made it more effective. We can only wait and see.

Getting vaccinated is not enough, since the vaccine may not completely eliminate the risk of getting the flu. You have to also engage in some basic infection prevention, such as not touching your eyes, nose or mouth without first washing your hands. Flu viruses can survive on skin for a few hours. Whose hand did you just shake and how clean were their hands? You may not be able to answer that question. Flu viruses have been known to survive on surfaces for as long as 48 hours as well, which means they could hang out on door knobs, elevator push buttons, work benches, etc. The virus makes its way from people with flu via cough and sneeze particles – droplets of spit, saliva and nasal secretions that carry live viruses which may be inhaled by susceptible individuals. The Flu virus is easily destroyed by soap and water. You can use regular household cleaning supplies to wipe down common use surfaces or objects potentially contaminated with Flu viruses. Flu is also contagious before symptoms begin, which means you have to lean strongly on hand hygiene, environmental hygiene and vaccination. If you develop flu symptoms while at NSU, you may want to wear a facemask if it doesn’t interfere with your breathing, and go visit your doctor. Although this will not eliminate chances of infecting others, it will certainly minimize that risk. The CDC recommends not coming to work or attending school if you have fever (>100°F) and respiratory symptoms, until after the fever is gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducers. So, stay at home if you are sick. If you have to go to the doctor or the pharmacy, wear a facemask. If you are a student, form a buddy system, so your friend can take notes for you if you miss class. If you are sick and have roommates, see if they can stay with friends until you get well. Be sure to keep in touch with your friends, professors or student health services – so someone will know if your health deteriorates and can get you the help you need. Consider skipping non-essential meetings or call into the meeting using FaceTime or Skype. Last year’s flu season killed over 80,000 people in the United States. We don’t know what this year’s season will be like, but educating yourself with relevant knowledge is always a sensible approach to infection prevention.