In addition to its commitment to helping students cope with a wide range of health issues, the Saint Martin’s University Student Health Center is dedicated to keeping students informed about health-related matters. The Student Health Center provides several resources with helpful information about common health concerns, vaccinations and questions.
Information about sickle cell trait for student athletes
Though it has recently raised alarm in the athletic community, exercising with sickle cell trait is generally safe and, with proper awareness and education, poses no barriers to outstanding athletic performance. Most athletes complete their careers without any complications. But it can affect some athletes during periods of intense exercise, when the inherited condition causes red blood cells to warp into stiff and sticky sickle shapes that block blood vessels and deprive vital organs and muscles of oxygen. The trait can affect athletes at all levels, including high school, collegiate, Olympic and professional. But through testing and proper examinations by a physician prior to competition, we can help athletes enjoy a healthy career.
What is sickle-cell trait?
It’s a generally benign condition in which a person inherits from their parents one gene for the oxygen-carrying element in their red blood cells – hemoglobin – and one gene for sickle shaped hemoglobin. It is not the same as the more severe condition, sickle cell disease, in which both genes for sickle hemoglobin are inherited. Those with the trait usually experience normal, healthy lives. Only in situations where the body is pushed to extreme conditions, as athletes do, can the trait sometimes cause red blood cells to sickle and block blood vessels, denying oxygen to muscles and organs.
How common is it?
About eight percent of the African-American population in the U.S. carries the trait but it is rare (around 1 in 2,000 to 1 in 10,000) in Caucasians. It is present in athletes at all levels, from high school through the professional ranks.
Are student athletes tested for the trait?
Are student athletes tested for the trait?There is no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to compete. Sickle cell trait only becomes a threat in certain rare situations in which athletes push the limits of their physical conditioning.
Key facts about influenza (flu) and flu vaccine
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and, at times, can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a fluvaccine each year.
Signs and symptoms of flu
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (very tired)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
How serious is the flu?
Flu is unpredictable and its severity can vary widely from one season to the next, depending on many things, including:
- what flu viruses are spreading,
- how much flu vaccine is available
- when a vaccine is available
- how many people get vaccinated, and
- how well the flu vaccine is matched to flu viruses that are causing illness.
Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu. This includes older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and persons who live in facilities like nursing homes.
Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.
Complications of flu
Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
Preventing seasonal flu: get vaccinated
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season.Traditional flu vaccines that were made to protect against three different flu viruses (called “trivalent” vaccines) are available. In addition, this season, flu vaccines are made to protect against four different flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines), which are also available. The trivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and an influenza B virus. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend one flu vaccine over the other. The important thing is to get a flu vaccine every year.
When to get vaccinated against seasonal flu
Yearly flu vaccination should begin soon after flu vaccine is available, and ideally by October. However, getting vaccinated even later can be protective, as long as flu viruses are circulating. While seasonal influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection, it is best that people get vaccinated so they are protected before influenza begins spreading in their community.
Everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 when CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for "universal" flu vaccination in the U.S. to expand protection against the flu to more people. While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.
- Children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years old
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- Pregnant women
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives seem to be at higher risk of flu complications
Who should not be vaccinated against seasonal flu?
Some people should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. They include:
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
- Children younger than six months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for use in this age group).
- People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.
- People with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine. Tell your doctor if you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Your doctor will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you.
Community medical resources
For medical resources not provided by Saint Martin's University Student Health Center, please view the following list of resources.
- Note, the following information is not provided as recommendations or endorsements.
|24-hour Crisis Line||N/A||360-586-2800|
|Group Health Cooperative||700 Lilly Rd NE |
|Pacific Walk-In Clinic||3928 Pacific Ave. SE|
|Providence St. Peter Hospital|
|413 Lilly Road NE|
|Sea Mar Community Clinic||3030 Limited Lane NW|
|Sea Mar Clinic|
|409 Custer Way, #C|
|Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Services||N/A||360-754-6300|
|Urgent Care of Olympia||3700 Martin Way|
|Westcare Clinic||3000 Limited Lane, NW|
|Fred Meyer Pharmacy||700 Sleater-Kinney Rd. SE |
|Rite Aid Pharmacy||691 Sleater-Kinney Rd. SE|
|Shopko Pharmacy||5500 Martin Way|
|Target||665 Sleater-Kinney Rd. SW|
|Walgreen Drug Store||4540 Lacey Blvd. SE|