Preventing the Flu This Season


Selma Ulm

The Teen Health Center at CRLS offers the flu vaccine for free.

Azusa Lippit, Around School Editor

Anyone who’s ever missed a day of school knows how stressful having to stay home can be—piles of assignments to make up, notes to copy, and tests to study for. Even worse? Not feeling well enough to complete the missed assignments at all and feeling guilty about it. Students are plagued, literally, with the responsibility of staying on top of their work during flu season.

The flu can be spread between people up to six feet away from each other. Though approximately 2,000 teenagers confined in a school is a recipe for quick-spreading colds and viruses, there are several preventative measures that can be taken. Sarah Swettberg, who has been working as a nurse practitioner for the past two years at CRLS, sees symptoms showing up incessantly during this time of year. “The best advice I can give is to wash your hands using warm water and soap, don’t touch your mouth, nose, or eyes, and get vaccinated.” 

Luckily, the flu is also one of the most easily preventable viruses, and with advances in medicine, it only gets more so. There are two kinds of flu vaccines: trivalent and quadrivalent, which have three and four components respectively. Each type of vaccine works for different age groups or for people with specific conditions that may complicate vaccination. For those with a fear of needles, a nasal spray is also available from most healthcare providers, approved for people ages two to 49. 

Students like Ilora Roy ’22  agree that “it’s super easy to get the shot … If all you have to do is go to the doctor and get one, why wouldn’t you?” The CRLS Teen Health Center offers the flu vaccine for free to any student. All students need is a permission form signed by their parents, unless they are age 18 or older they and can make the decision by themselves. 

If all you have to do is go to the doctor and get one, why wouldn’t you [get a flu shot]?

— Ilora Roy '22

One of the arguments Swettberg hears most from those in opposition to the vaccine is the theory that it can make students sick due to the sample of virus that the vaccine contains. “They always say ‘the vaccine got me sick’ but they typically are seeing a cold which occurred around the time that they were vaccinated. You 100% cannot get the flu from the flu shot. It’s an inactivated sample of the virus, so it’s impossible to get it from the shot.”

Health officials are urging Massachusetts residents to get vaccinated as the number of cases of the flu has spiked in recent years. 82 confirmed cases of the flu have already been found and diagnosed in Massachusetts in the last month. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people get vaccinated by the end of October in order to prevent infection and stay resistant for the entire season. The flu is especially dangerous for toddlers and young children, and with the daycare center at CRLS, the CRLS community has an even greater incentive to prevent the flu. To stay healthy this flu season, visit an online map ( to find convenient vaccines near you.

This piece also appears in our October 2019 print edition.