Although COVID-19 continues to take its toll on the nation, it has not managed to stop other diseases from continuing to impact the holidays.
Flu season, for example, is already underway, and while it certainly has not gotten as much press as COVID-19 in the past few months, it continues to be a problem compromised immune systems and those of advanced age, making it imperative that we continue to address it.
In the spirit of working to slow the spread of the influenza virus, the Institute is urging students to receive their flu shot during the next few weeks, citing the importance of safety and staying well.
Each year the US experiences its flu season between the months of October and May, with peak activity occurring in the winter. Per usual, Tech is hosting several flu shot clinics during the fall semester.
There are many thousands of influenza strains that we can contract, making vaccinations a more complicated task for medical professionals.
In order to account for this, medical experts gather prior to flu season and use mathematical modelling and epidemiological predictions to surmise which strains are likely to be more prevalent for the given season. Using this data, they work to create a concoction of different flue vaccines that are distributed to the general public as this years flu vaccination.
The Institute held multiple clinics in October, and most recently held one on Nov. 10.
These clinics do not require appointments and are free for all students who have paid the health fee.
In addition to those hosted and funded by the Institute, Tech has held other clinics on behalf of external pharmacies. On Nov. 3, Tech hosted a CVS flu shot clinic in Exhibition Hall, although this clinic required prior registration and presentation of insurance for students. Tech will hold one more clinic through Stamps Health Services this semester on Dec. 1 from 3-7 p.m. There may be more clinics hosted by external companies as well, and students can always go to a nearby pharmacy to receive their flu shot. While flu season is a normal occurrence, the past flu season was extremely unusual.
Prior to the 2020-2021 flu season the percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for the influenza virus was between 26.2% and 30.3% according to the CDC.
During the 2020-2021 flu season, the positivity rate was about 0.2%. This drastic decrease has a few explanations: The CDC says that COVID-19 mitigation measures most likely helped decrease the spread of the flu. These efforts include wearing face masks, school closures and social distancing among other preventative actions. They also reported that a record 193.8 million doses of the influenza vaccine were administered, which also could have contributed to the flu’s low prevalence last year. While COVID-19 cases were spiking last winter, flu cases hit a record low for the past several years, but it cannot be said if this trend will continue into this year. Some sources expect a surge of COVID-19 and flu cases later this year as both viruses spread with eased pandemic restrictions, but concrete data is not currently available to substantiate this theory. With the temperatures dropping in Atlanta and forcing people indoors, Tech is maintaining its current COVID-19 protocols to help inhibit the spread of the virus.
These guidelines, along with the flu clinics, could lead to a decrease in campus flu cases over the winter. For more updates on Tech’s efforts to stop the spread of the flu, visit health.gatech.edu to see flu shot clinic dates and information about the flu vaccine.