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More students take time to get flu shots this year

With flu season here, the Student Health Center has seen a rise in the number of people getting vaccinated against influenza in comparison to last year.
The Health Center has already given out more than 200 shots within the first two weeks of the season, Health Services Medical Director Dr. Jessica Higgs said.
While the people receiving flu vaccinations remains largely faculty and staff, the number of students is steadily increasing.
Reasons why popularity among students still lacks is speculated. Students claim the vaccines hurt, cost too much money and they simply don’t have the time, Higgs said.
Freshman AEP major Peter Kenny said he has a good immune system and feels “the elderly or young children” should definitely get vaccinated.
“If students don’t have the time to get the flu shot, they definitely do not have the time to get the flu,” Higgs said.
She strongly recommends students to get vaccinated and said, “the more people who get the flu shot the better.”
Over time, if a substantial number of people within a community get flu shots, they develop herd immunity, Higgs said.
Herd immunity means “it is less likely that anyone in that community will get the flu,” she said.
Kenny, however, said he believes the vaccine could initially cause him to get sick.
This is a common myth most people hold as true, Higgs said.
“The flu shot is not what is called a ‘live’ vaccine, which basically means it cannot make you sick,” she said.
In general the three types of flu viruses that cause people to get sick are A, B and C. Those are then narrowed down to more specific types of flu viruses known as strains.
Higgs said students should “think of it like a tree.” She said just as “different trees produce different shapes of leaves that allow us to distinguish the difference,” viruses and strains also “have different markers on their surface that affects our bodies’ ability to recognize it.”
This year the Center for Disease Control expects the A type strains H1N1 and H3N2 and B type strain to be targeted. Last year, the CDC predictions were somewhat off, leading to an ineffective flu shot.
“This is a very educated guess [and] they are usually very good at predicting which viruses will be rampant,” Higgs said.
Mainly the flu is spread by respiratory particles that shift from person to person. Higgs said she suggests students wash their hands often, stay away from sick people and cover coughs or sneezes with tissues to prevent the potential spreading of the virus.
Common flu symptoms include: fatigue, headaches, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, soreness, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
Higgs said the best action for students who have the flu is to “get lots of rest, drink lots of fluids and take ibuprofen for muscle aches.”
She said students should contact Health Services because “people can get very sick from the flu with high fevers and dehydration.”
Kenny said although he isn’t getting a flu shot, he hopes to not get sick.
“The flu’s terrible and I hope I don’t get it this year,” Kenny said.