By THE BLUE AND GRAY PRESS EDITORIAL BOARD
Between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6 this year, an unnamed, unvaccinated child was killed by the flu in Florida. This death tragically marks the beginning for many more flu-related deaths as flu season moves upon us.
Last flu season the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded a 40-year record high of 80,000 flu-related deaths with 180 of them being children. Out of that 180, 144 of those children were unvaccinated.
The key to defending our community from disease lies in keeping the majority of the population vaccinated, an idea called herd immunity. Herd immunity works by vaccinating the majority of the population in order to stop the spread of the virus from person to person, and thus the outbreak of the disease. This protects the vaccinated individuals as well as people that can not get the flu shot due to allergies, and people who are immunocompromised. According to the CDC, herd immunity requires at least 70% of the population to receive the flu vaccination.
In the 2017-2018 flu season, only 41% of adults received the flu vaccination with only a slight increase for children at 59%. With vaccination numbers, this low, herd immunity is impossible as unvaccinated individuals are not only putting themselves at risk but their community too.
Everyone who is able to receive immunizations should take the time out of their day to get a flu shot to protect both themselves and those who can not get the shot for medical reasons. The Student Health Center has partnered with Giant Pharmacy to provide flu shots to the UMW community. Flu shots will be administered in the UC lobby from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both Oct. 24 and 25. The cost is $18 for UMW faculty, staff, and students without insurance and those with Aetna and United Health Care.