Students consider getting flu shots

By Ryan Chambers

With colder months quickly approaching, students grapple with the decision on whether or not to get a flu shot.

“Honestly, I don’t know if I even want to get the flu shot,” said Kenneth Stratton, freshman child psychology major. “I’ve heard too many bad things about it.”

Some students agree, stating that they are simply too unsure of the vaccine to take the risk.

“From what I hear, each year there is a new strand and the vaccine is usually from the previous year,” said Blake Box , junior family social services major. “And I really don’t want to spend my money on a shot that fights last year’s virus.”

These are just some of the rumors that surround the flu vaccine. Carol Sibley, nurse coordinator in Preventive Medicine at Health Services, tries to offer some peace of mind to students who are unsure if they wish to get the shot.

As with any vaccine or medication, the possibility of a severe allergic reaction is always there, Sibley said.

“Severe problems after vaccination might be a life-threatening allergic reaction, but that is rare,” she said.

Sibley said anyone who is vaccinated cannot contract the virus simply from getting the shot.

“Health Services provides inactivated influenza vaccine which means the virus in the vaccine is dead and cannot infect you with influenza,” she said. “Some people who receive the vaccine, however, may have soreness, redness or swelling at the vaccine site, while some get hoarseness, sore red eyes, cough, fever and aches. If these symptoms occur, they usually begin within 12 hours of receiving the shot and last one or two days. Persons who receive the inactivated vaccine and experience these symptoms are not infectious to others. It generally takes 10-14 days to get antibodies after a influenza vaccine.”

The rumor about becoming paralyzed by the vaccine is weighing heavy on the mind of students such as Stratton said, but Sibley ensured that the rumor had not been confirmed and was extremely rare.

Sibley also explained the truth behind misconceptions regarding paralysis as an effect of the vaccine.

“Influenza vaccines have not been clearly associated with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a paralytic illness),” Sibley said. “But if there is a risk it would be 1-2 cases per million vaccinated persons.”

With so many rumors surrounding the vaccine and with the holidays quickly approaching, Sibley offered skeptical students some words of encouragement.

Sibley said avoiding infecting others is another reason students should get vaccinated.

“Students don’t want to bring flu home to family and friends during visits,” she said. “And besides, mom will be happy that her student got a flu vaccine.”

For the students who wish to receive the influenza vaccine, they can go to Preventive Medicine in Health Services. They are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 4 p.m. No appointments are needed. Students can head to the lower level and check-in at Room 23.