Vaccination examination

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Fall weather is nearly here, along with colorful leaves, pumpkins, sweaters, hot beverages and the flu season.

Medical experts urge getting the flu shot as early as possible in order to ward off this season’s influenza virus, said Nurse Practitioner Melissa Christiansen. Despite past concerns about the safety of the vaccine, officials assure the vaccine is safe and will protect against this year’s flu.

It is important to get the vaccination every year because past vaccinations are not continuously effective.

Christiansen said this year’s vaccine protects against H1N1, Brisbane and Perth.

“The viruses in the flu shot are inactivated, and in the flu mist the viruses are live but weakened,” Annabelle Esparza, RN MSN PHN II, said.

Contrary to a common misconception, the shot does not give you the flu.

“You cannot get the flu from the shot or the mist. However, the minor side effects (i.e., aches, low grade fever, sore throat) may mimic symptoms, but they usually start soon after the vaccination is given and go away within two days,” Esparza said.

However, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccine will not prevent infection from other viruses, including flu viruses not contained in the vaccine.

“The flu season is typically from November to April,” Christiansen said. “You should get the vaccine at the end of October or beginning of November and it will last for six months.”

Why is the flu such a problem?

According to Christiansen, influenza is a pulmonary disease spread through coughing, sneezing or nasal secretions. It is characterized by sudden onset, high fever, headache, body aches, exhaustion and can manifest in the chest as bronchitis or pneumonia.

With these risks, why not consider getting the flu vaccination?

“Not all of us are healthy, so it is important to not only protect ourselves but others around us, especially our vulnerable populations (i.e., children, the elderly, those with chronic illnesses) who are at higher risk of developing flu-related complications,” Esparza said.

Christiansen encourages students to get the vaccination sooner rather than later, as it takes 10 days to two weeks for the body to build up enough immunity. If you have been exposed before the shot, you may still catch it.

Esparza advises not to get the flu vaccine when sick, especially with a fever. It is best to wait until after recovery to get the vaccine.

Still, the vaccination has side effects.

“Shot vaccine side effects include soreness, redness, swelling to the injection site, low grade fever and general aches,” Esparza said. “Flu mist side effects can include runny nose, fever, headache, sore throat, cough and muscle aches. There are severe allergic reactions on rare occasions. Prior to obtaining the flu vaccine, there is a health questionnaire that needs to be completed, and always discuss any concerns you may have with your health care professional.”

Along with the vaccination, Christiansen recommends students wash their hands frequently, drink water and get plenty of sleep on a regular basis.

For patients with needle apprehension, thinner needles and nasal spray flu vaccine are also available.

If you are unsure of where to get the vaccination, the CBU Health Center located in Lancer Plaza offers free flu shots to students, faculty and staff.

“By getting the flu vaccine, you are protecting your loved ones and your community, as the flu virus spreads easily and it is the best way to protect yourself against the flu,” Esparza said.

College students seem stay up late to study, hang out with friends and they often end up having a midnight snack.

Late nights should not always require fast-food runs for midnight snacks. There are healthy and inexpensive alternatives that boost concentration and wellness. These options are easy to prepare and provide energy popular foods do not.

Fruits, veggies, nuts and lean meats are always a smart idea when you want something healthy and filling. However, healthy foods have the reputation of lacking flavor. Pairing it with a spice or natural sugar will make them satisfying.

Whipped Greek yogurt with coconut flakes and agave is an option is best for students who have a sweet tooth but would rather not give in to a candy bar. Greek yogurt provides protein without the sugar and fat of regular yogurt. Agave, a natural sweetener found at Trader Joe’s or Vons, mixes well with the yogurt. Coconut flakes add texture and sweetness without excessive calories. Try cinnamon or candied walnuts if you do not like coconut.

Hummus with pita, fruits, veggies or all combined is packed with fiber and protein. It also contains Omega-3 fatty acids that boost memory and cognitive performance. Eating this spread is an easy way to boost your metabolism and burn calories.

Air popped popcorn with cinnamon or seasoning of your choice. Popcorn is a popular snack when you want something inexpensive and easy to make. However, regular popcorn come with loads of butter, calories and different fats that are problematic to health through regular consumption. If you remove the butter, popcorn by itself is fine.

Although there is little nutritional value, it is low in calories. To add flavor, cinnamon is a great spice to sprinkle on the popcorn, as well as a savory option of lemon pepper or sea salt.

Late-night studying and coffee are often found together. Caffeine is a stimulant and it is not a source of energy. As a result, the body lacks the rest it needs and takes extra energy to function and perform well. It will only end up hindering your performance and creating unnecessary fatigue.

Instead of coffee, try mint-flavored tea or black tea. Just the scents of mint teas wake up the senses. Most teas have little to no caffeine but foster sleep after late night studying. Tazo Refresh tea or peppermint teas are great choices. Black teas have more caffeine but not as much as coffee.

There are various types of black teas to choose from, like Tazo Awake Tea or English breakfast black tea. Many chai teas also have black tea in them. For a change, add almond milk for substance and flavor.

Many of these simple ingredients are reusable and can create different combinations for future use. These healthy snacks will satisfy your body and mind.

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