Guard yourself: Get to know the flu2 min read

Guard yourself: Get to know the flu

Nathan Mitchell

A cough or a sniffle this time of year may draw a few suspicious glances from strangers. It is flu season, after all.
This season’s outbreak started early, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and data hints that it may be waning.
With other states experiencing epidemic infection levels, California is enduring relatively mild flu activity this year.
Flu Basics
Different viruses cause the common cold and flu but they share similar symptoms, according to the CDC. A runny nose is more common with a cold, and vomiting and a fever are more common with the flu, but the main difference is the flu’s faster onset.
People get the flu primarily by inhaling airborne droplets created when infected people cough, sneeze or talk, according to, a website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“The best prevention is to wash your hands and get a flu shot,” said Crystal Macchi, a nurse at the De Anza College Health Services. The flu virus can be introduced by touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
What if you’ve got it?
The first thing to do after getting the flu is to avoid spreading it. “Stay home from work and school,” Macchi says.
Most adults are contagious one day before to a week after their symptoms appear, according to
The best remedies are the old standbys of rest and staying hydrated, Macchi says, and in general antiviral drugs are not necessary.
What about the flu shot?
People cannot contract the flu from the flu shot, according to the CDC. A vaccine contains only dead viruses so the immune system can make antibodies to quickly identify and thwart an actual infection.
But you can still get sick after receiving a flu shot.
The vaccine takes about two weeks to become effective. “In the meantime, you are still at risk for getting the flu,” according to
Furthermore, even successful flu vaccines are typically about 60 percent effective, according to
Still, the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services, and De Anza’s Health Services recommend most people get a flu shot to prevent the flu from spreading, particularly to those susceptible to complications.
De Anza Health Services offers free vaccines to students, says Lisa Sanford, an assistant at De Anza Health Services, although you should schedule an appointment.
De Anza’s Health Services orders between 1,300 and 1,500 vaccines each year around late September to early October, she says, and administers them until supplies run out.