Refusing flu shot endangers public health
By AMANDA SMITH
Flu season seemed to rapidly spread across UMW’s campus this spring semester. Even after receiving their seasonal flu shot, students still can’t seem to avoid it. Students subject themselves to a needle prick in hopes of having a healthy semester, but sometimes are later met with achy and feverish results. Recently, students have voiced some shocking positions of insisting on not getting the flu shot. Their claim? It is not protecting them against the flu.
“I get the flu shot every year, but I seem to catch it every time, even twice this semester. I feel like it’s not worth it anymore, what even are the benefits of it,” said junior Cameron Coates.
“Students are so concerned about getting or not getting the flu shot. They should not be concerned about whether to get the flu shot, but whether their friends are getting it,” said senior Emma Yerly.
Yet this is misconception. By having everyone get their flu shot, they are most likely to avoid infection because of community immunity. Few are aware that communities, like campuses, can increase their ability to fight the flu and keep it out.
“Immunologists refer to a term called herd immunity or community immunity which means the majority of a population is vaccinated against a specific illness – in this case, the flu – thereby reducing the entire community’s risk, particularly vulnerable populations. The more people who are vaccinated, the better because it lessens everyone’s chance of exposure to the disease,” reports Piedmont healthcare.
Even though some students may go through the vicious cycle of getting flu while in the midst of their projects, papers and presentations, it is extremely urged that anyone and everyone should get their flu shot in order to create a healthier campus–even if they still get the flu.
The flu shot protects against more than the flu and it protects more than just you.
Nurse Sarah Fredell of the UMW Health Center fights for this cause by explaining, “getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people and people with certain chronic health conditions.”
The flu shot is customized every year to prevent getting the most deadly strains that scientists can predict for that year. For 2019-2020, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that this year’s vaccines protect against two strains of Type A, “H1N1 and H3N2” and two strains of Type B “a Victoria lineage and Yamagata lineage virus.” All viruses that are put into the flu shot every season are researched and tested in order to protect individuals from the most serious influenza virus that will reach a certain region.
Dr. John Sellick, infectious disease expert and professor of medicine at the University at Buffalo, stated, “this year the circulating strains of influenza virus appear to be well-matched with the vaccine strains, but we will not know the ultimate efficacy until the season is over.”
Even more promising, the CDC reports, “in seasons when the vaccine viruses matched circulating strains, flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40 to 60 percent.”
It seems to be promising that researchers are diligently working hard to anticipate the influenza viruses to come and promising healthy futures. Even though their predictions are well-matched and researched, students are still wary.
“There are so many other strains or mutations of the virus that are developing all the time, there is always a chance of getting the flu, even with the flu shot,” said junior Cheyenne Palmo.
“We have had some students who had gotten the flu shot still get the flu. No vaccine is 100 percent effective, so getting the flu shot is not a guarantee that you will not get the flu. But there are still many benefits to getting the vaccine every year. Please get your flu shot,” said Fredell.
It is also important that students don’t assume that they have the flu at the sight of one mild symptom. It’s easy to assume you have the flu, but there is also a good chance that when you go to get checked out that the diagnosis with not be the flu but instead a “flu-like illness.”
The CDC says that “with flu-like illness, you have a fever of at least 100 Fahrenheit and a cough or sore throat, but the cause of the symptoms isn’t known.” Whether it’s the flu or not, the flu shot can protect against not just everyone around you but the severity of the symptoms as well that can lead to hospitalizations.
Fredell said, “Getting the vaccine also prevents tens and thousands of hospitalizations related to the flu. Be wise- immunize.”
Flu vaccines are more than just helpful to you, but to everyone around you. Flu vaccines are safe. The flu can be a life-threatening disease. Weighing out the options, the answer is clear. Take the risks and deal with the flu shot; reduce the chance of getting yourself or anyone else around you sick.