Ignore the Naysayers: It’s Not Too Late For That Flu Shot

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iStock

The only thing that’s been getting more negative press this winter than the flu is the flu shot. Stories abound about 2018’s vaccine being less effective than usual, leading to some grumbling about whether it’s even worth the trouble.

According to Popular Science and many other outlets, there is no debate: Getting a flu shot, even this late in the season, is still very much in your best interest.

For one thing, the idea of a “flu season” is a bit shortsighted. While flu cases peak from October to March, the flu doesn’t really have a concept of our calendar and has no problem striking at any time during the year. After developing antibodies in response to the antigens present in the vaccine—a process that takes about two weeks—you’ll be far more equipped to deal with infection both at the end of the season and beyond.

Naysayers are still hesitant to get the vaccine for another reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccine formulated this year may only be 30 percent effective against H3N2, the most dominant flu strain in circulation. But 30 percent is better than zero percent—and there’s no guarantee you won’t get hit with another strain that the vaccine is more equipped to handle.

There are more reasons to hit your pharmacy or physician’s office for a quick poke in the arm. By getting the shot, you decrease the chances of spreading the virus from yourself to others. And if you do develop a case of the flu, symptoms could be reduced in severity.

So, no, it’s not too late to get vaccinated. Do it at your earliest convenience and then do it earlier next year. And don’t forget to wash your hands (ideally while singing "Happy Birthday"—twice).

[h/t Popular Science]

The Mental Floss Store Is Back!

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Mental Floss Store

You've been asking about it for months, and today we can finally confirm that the Mental Floss Store is back up and running! Simply head here to find dozens of T-shirts with all sorts of unique designs to choose from, whether you’re in the market for a pi pun, a risqué grammar joke, or something only your fellow bookworms will appreciate. You can even use your new Mental Floss shirt to teach your friends all about scurvy.

Mental Floss Store

If you’re just in the mood to express your love of all things Mental Floss, you can also get our darling little logo on phone cases, tote bags, mugs, baby bibs, and more.

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Head on over to the Mental Floss Store to see our entire collection. And if you use the code FLOSSERS at checkout by end of day Sunday, you'll get 20 percent off your order. 

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America's Top 25 Colleges and Universities for 2021

Harvard University's Memorial Hall.
Harvard University's Memorial Hall.

Deciding what makes a certain college more desirable than another is highly subjective. Some prospective students might think a championship-winning football team and a massive student body are major selling points, while others prize a small, tightly knit community above all else.

To try to come as close as possible to identifying objectively great colleges and universities around the country, WalletHub analyzed a whopping 30 factors in seven categories, from student selectivity and cost to campus experience and career outcomes. These encompass basic metrics—admissions rate and average class size, for example—as well as more specific considerations, like study abroad programs, on-campus employment opportunities, and the median salaries of recent graduates.

Of all 1008 schools included in the study, the Ivy League ones continue to reign supreme. Harvard University ranked first, with a score of 78.6 across all 30 metrics, edging out Yale by just .03 points. Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Dartmouth, and Brown also made the top 25. With low acceptance rates and high graduation rates—not to mention huge endowments—these stately old institutions are rather difficult to compete with, but they’re definitely not the only esteemed places to get a four-year education.

As a testament to the continuing success of the tech industry, three technology institutes made WalletHub’s list: Massachusetts in third place, California in fifth, and Georgia in 11th. Those three schools ranked in the top five for return on educational investment, meaning that graduates make high starting salaries compared to how much their education actually cost.

Geographically, New England (and the East coast in general) is home to a majority of the top schools, though five from California alone did chart, too: Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley; Pomona College; and Claremont McKenna College, in addition to the aforementioned California Institute of Technology.

Check out the top 25 below, and see where your alma mater ranks on WalletHub’s full list here.

  1. Harvard University // 78.6
  1. Yale University // 78.57
  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology // 78.44
  1. Princeton University // 78.41
  1. California Institute of Technology // 77.65
  1. Stanford University // 77.12
  1. Rice University // 76.96
  1. Northwestern University // 75.4
  1. Duke University // 75.18
  1. University of Pennsylvania // 74.95
  1. Georgia Institute of Technology // 74.92
  1. Vanderbilt University // 74.66
  1. University of California, Berkeley // 74.54
  1. Columbia University // 74.51
  1. Johns Hopkins University // 74.37
  1. University of Chicago // 73.59
  1. Dartmouth College // 73.43
  1. Williams College // 73.19
  1. Brown University // 73.17
  1. Carnegie Mellon University // 73.11
  1. Washington and Lee University // 73.08
  1. Swarthmore College // 73.08
  1. Pomona College // 72.92
  1. Claremont McKenna College // 72.84
  1. Amherst College // 72.83