As a thin silver needle plunged into my arm, my roommate squeezed my hand to show her support of my courageous effort.
Tables full of student nurses looked at me like I was child, as I certainly acted like one.
On Tuesday, I overcame my fear of needles and voluntarily marched my way to University Health Services’ flu clinic.
I was a flu shot virgin. I’ve never gotten the shot that millions receive in the winter months because I’ve never gotten the flu.
But as I read the reports that the influenza virus was sweeping the country, I swallowed my pride and admitted my immune system wasn’t like that of Superman’s.
It looked like I had a pretty good shot at being infected with the virus that had the power to confine me to bed rest and daytime television.
Though flu season hasn’t reached its peak yet, I’m praying that having a sore arm where I was injected pays off, as the vaccine takes about two weeks to kick in.
Penn State students should practice caution this flu season by getting a flu shot, too.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over six months old receive the flu shot.
Even if you’ve never had the flu or gotten the vaccinations, you should still get one.
I’ve heard people say that they don’t get the shot, because they fear that it will make them sick or they’ve gotten sick in the past from the shot.
This isn’t true. Yes, the syringe is filled with the virus, but it’s inactive. You cannot get the flu from the shot, according to the CDC.
The upcoming weeks may be the most important to be vaccinated, as the flu is ripping through Pennsylvania.
Cases have been reported in at least half of the state’s regions. The virus has claimed the lives of at least 23 people in the state, including one infant, according to the Associated Press.
Hospitals across the state are responding — some have opened mobile flu units. The Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown constructed an outdoor “surge tent” to prepare for an influx of patients and to prevent the flu from spreading to other patients inside the hospital, according to the Associated Press.
At University Park, Influenza B has been reported to be circulating on campus.
Shelley Haffner, an infection control nurse manager at UHS, said she expects more than 1,000 students to be vaccinated over the next few weeks. A health clinic will be offered at UHS on Jan. 28.
Haffner anticipates that nearly 4,000 flu shots will be given out on campus, a fraction of Penn State’s student body of over.
“I would love for us to give all 40,000 flu shots,” she said as dozens of students waited in line to receive flu shots.
But, this year it’s unrealistic that UHS can provide vaccinations close to 40,000 student, as flu shots are in low supply throughout the country.
Last week, CVS Pharmacy, 116 W. College Ave. requested an emergency order of flu shots because of the high demand. When the store received the shipment in, all were soldout in a matter of days.
If supplies do run out and you can’t get a vaccine anywhere, there are other steps you can take to keep yourself and those around you healthy.
Follow the lessons you learned as a child.
Cover your mouth when you cough. Use a tissue when you sneeze and then throw the tissue out. Refrain from touching your face, especially your eyes and nose.
Haffner said these steps can lessen the chances of becoming sick. Haffner also recommends that
students carry a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer with them at all times during flu season.
Sanitizing your hands after opening the door in a school building could prevent you from a week of sickness.
And if you do think you have the flu, be smart about it.
Haffner said students who believe they have a serious case of the flu, especially those with other chronic illnesses should report to UHS as soon as possible.
There are remedies doctors can prescribe that can lessen the symptoms of the flu in its early stages, Haffner said.
The university has recommended in the past that students stay home from class if they have the flu, as a precaution to spreading it to others.
Please, if you have a fever and can’t stop coughing, email your professor and take time to recover.
Your classmates and professor will thank you for it.
Christina Gallagher is junior majoring in journalism and is The Daily Collegian’s Wednesday columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.