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Flu vaccinations for college students

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Flu vaccinations for college students

 Left to Right: Junior Kyra Kliman, Freshman Clayton Coates and Junior Melanie Evangelista have mixed views on the importance of the flu shot vaccine.

Left to Right: Junior Kyra Kliman, Freshman Clayton Coates and Junior Melanie Evangelista have mixed views on the importance of the flu shot vaccine.

Photos: Nick Kearney

Left to Right: Junior Kyra Kliman, Freshman Clayton Coates and Junior Melanie Evangelista have mixed views on the importance of the flu shot vaccine.

Photos: Nick Kearney

Photos: Nick Kearney

Left to Right: Junior Kyra Kliman, Freshman Clayton Coates and Junior Melanie Evangelista have mixed views on the importance of the flu shot vaccine.

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Every fall, the warnings begin: It’s flu season, so get your flu shot. However, vaccination rates on college campuses are strikingly low. As low as 8 percent, and as high as 39 percent according to a 2016, report from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

“The fact is, college students are profoundly under vaccinated,” said Dr. William Schaffner, Medical Director for the NFID, according to a May 23, 2017, story by NBC News. “About 95 percent of those who got the flu never got vaccinated.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Experiences annual epidemics of seasonal flu. Influenza season begins as early as October and can continue into May.

The influenza viruses attack and infect the respiratory track: nose, throat and lungs. The response of the immune system often triggers the following symptoms: fever, muscle aches, cough and sore throat. The flu can transition into secondary ear and sinus infections, as well as, pneumonia.

The CDC estimates between 9.2-35.6 million flu illnesses each year. This represents 20 percent of the total population of the U.S. Of this number, 140,000-700,000 will be hospitalized. Sadly, during the 2012-2013 flu season 56,000 people died due to flu-related complications.

Photos: Nick Kearney
Left to Right: Junior Kyra Kliman, Freshman Clayton Coates and Junior Melanie Evangelista have mixed views on the importance of the flu shot vaccine.

The CDC recommends everyone six months and older be vaccinated, and obtain the vaccine before the flu season begins. This is because it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body. Since the influenza viruses constantly change it is important to obtain the vaccine every year.

Receiving the vaccine reduces the risk of getting the flu by 40-60 percent because the flu vaccines protect against three or four viruses researchers predict will be the most common. Obtaining a flu shot not only protects you, but prevents you from transmitting the extremely contagious flu virus to others.

The flu can spread quickly through dormitories, classrooms, and shared restrooms. Those that do get sick can expect to miss up to a week or more of class time.

A 2016 NFID report addressed the challenges of administering influenza vaccinations on college campuses. The report was based on an online Harris Poll surveying 1,005 college students ages 18 to 24.

In this survey most college students (70 percent) believe it is important to get the flu vaccine; however, less than half (46 percent) acknowledged that they would actually do it. The survey revealed that misconception and fear were key barriers in preventing college students from receiving the vaccine.

Among students who typically do not get a flu shot, 36 percent believe that they are healthy and do not need it, 31 percent admit that they don’t like needles, and 30 percent do not believe the vaccine works. Regrettably, 59 percent erroneously think that the flu vaccine can actually cause the flu.

Clayton Coates, a freshman ODAL and  journalism major, will not be getting vaccinated this flu season.

“I feel like I have a pretty strong immune system, and I have not gotten the flu in the past couple of years,” he said.

Likewise, Monique Hurdle, a junior digital arts and entrepreneurship major, is also opting out.

“I’ve never gotten one before, and I have never gotten the flu so I don’t feel like I need it,” she said.

Kyra Kliman, a junior ODAL and journalism major, sees the benefit in getting vaccinated, but admits she does not normally get a flu shot because she is concerned about the potential negative side effects.

“I think flu shots are beneficial because they can prevent the flu from spreading, but I am concerned about the potential side effects associated with the vaccine,” she said. “I do feel like my immune system is pretty strong.”

The CDC advises that allergic reactions to the flu vaccine are rare, and occur in less than one in every 100,000 doses administered. However, there are some individuals who should not receive the vaccination: individuals who have had an allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past, or those allergic to eggs.

Kameryn Jury-Hale, a junior marketing major, did get her flu shot, but admits it wasn’t totally her idea.

“Every year before I go back to school my mom insists that I get vaccinated,” she said.

Melanie Evangelista, a junior psychology major, acknowledges that she will be getting her flu shot this year.

“Getting the flu shot does make your body more capable of fighting off the flu virus,” she said. “I did remember to get it this year.”

Students can also reduce their risk of getting sick by: avoiding those that are sick, frequently washing their hands, as well as eating well, and getting their rest.

Students who desire to get vaccinated may do so in Incline Village at the following locations: Incline Village Community Hospital, Raley’s Pharmacy, and Village Pharmacy. No appointment is necessary. The cost of the flu shot runs from $31 to $45.

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Flu vaccinations for college students