Myths about the efficacy of the flu shot must be dispelled

Nicoletta Veneziano | Staff Columnist

Its that time of year again. The time when one college student starts the never-ending cycle of sickness among all other students at the university; the constant sniffles, the heavy coughs and the evident look of exhaustion in everyone you make eye contact with. That’s right, you guessed it. It’s flu season.

For me, flu season was always just a time where my mom would drag me to the doctor’s office to get my annual flu shot, and constantly tell me to wash my hands and not share drinks with friends. However, ever since becoming an actual adult, I have seen the consequences of how quickly the flu can spread, especially in this type of environment. Once one person you know gets sick, the entire floor gets sick. Then it leads to the entire building. Before you know it, everyone around you is in an inevitable cycle of stuffy noses and sore throats.

Although the flu is so visibly evident in its ability to spread in anyone and everyone it comes in contact with, the importance of getting the flu shot has recently been a topic of controversy. I’m sure we’ve all heard someone’s specific reasoning for an excuse to avoid the flu shot. It probably sounds something like this: “I’ve never gotten a flu shot and I’ve never been sick so why get it?” or “I hate shots” or the classic, and my personal favorite, “the flu shot gives you the flu.”

First thing’s first, let’s get some facts straight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2018-2019 U.S. flu season had up to 42.9 million cases of the flu, 647,000 hospitalizations, and 61,200 flu deaths. During this season, only 63% got the flu shot. Though that may seem like a high percentage, if more people got the flu shot, the number of hospitalizations and deaths would decrease significantly.

What exactly does the flu shot do you may ask? According to the CDC, the flu shot prevents up to 5 million influenza illnesses. It also reduces the risk of flu related hospitalization for people of all ages. One item not on the list of things that the flu shot does is “give you the flu.” Although it is possible to get the flu while still getting the flu shot, the symptoms will be far less severe, will last for a much shorter period of time, and will not derive any serious complications.

The popular and trending idea of not getting vaccinated out of fear of getting the illness is simply not practical. As college students, we should all be on the lookout for the safety and health of others. Whether that be washing your hands as often as possible, drinking a sufficient amount of water or most importantly, getting the flu shot, your peers will thank you and so will your body.

The flu shot is meant to keep not only the people around you healthy and safe, but more importantly, to keep yourself healthy and safe. Getting the flu shot can only help your body. So what do you think, are you ready to get the flu shot? The next flu clinic is on Nov. 7 in the Student Union, so take care of yourself and those around you and get that vaccine.

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