Free flu vaccinations advantageous for students

A student gets a flu shot this fall to stay healthy.   (Photo provided by Center for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Library)
A student gets a flu shot this fall to stay healthy. (Photo provided by Center for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Library)

I received the first flu shot that I can remember during my first semester at Oswego State from Mary Walker Health Center. I can remember calling my family to ask if I should get it, because, in the past, I was advised not to. In the end, it was my decision. Being a poor college student, I decided to take advantage of the free medical service provided to me. Opinions differ on the necessity of the flu shot, but I say why not? In young, healthy college students the chances of any serious complications from the flu are unlikely, but how many of us really want to get the flu? If there’s a chance that getting a free flu vaccine will reduce the likelihood of being stuck in bed while miserable and sick, I choose the flu vaccine. If any of my friends or family were to ask me if they should get the flu shot, I would suggest getting the vaccination.

As the cold weather approaches, so do sicknesses such as the cold and the flu. In preparation, Mary Walker Health Center has begun administering flu shots on campus, free to students. Right on time, because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states that in the U.S., “flu season” can last from October to May. According to the New York State Department of Health, five percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts the flu each year, which leads to roughly 200,000 hospitalizations. According to the CDC, it is estimated that the flu causes roughly 3,000 to 49,000 deaths each year, occurring mostly in adults aged 65 years or older. Due to the possible effects, the flu is considered a relatively serious disease. Because I am young and healthy, I do not worry about severe effects from the flu, such as death and hospitalization. However, I think that even a healthy person should take advantage of immunizations, especially when covered by insurance or offered for free.

According to the CDC, “an annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.”

After receiving the flu shot, it takes roughly two weeks for antibodies, which protect the body against infection, to develop in the body. Therefore, it is suggested that a person receive the flu vaccination as soon as possible, especially during the flu season. It is important to note that it is possible to get the flu after vaccination, but in my experience, this has not happened. Minor side effects of the flu shot include low fever, aches and soreness where the shot was administered. The only side effect that I experienced from the vaccination was a slight pain in my arm for two or three days after the injection, which I expect from all shots.

There are many beneficial reasons to receive the flu shot, including protection from the flu and reduction in severity of symptoms of the flu if contracted. I, like most other people, absolutely hate being sick. Coming down with the cold makes me feel as though I might not live through the day, so I’ll do as much as I can to avoid an illness, especially if the method is known to work.

The CDC states, “one study showed that flu vaccination was associated with a 71 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults of all ages and a 77 percent reduction among adults 50 years of age and older during the 2011 to 2012 flu season.”

For full effectiveness in protection against the flu through the flu shot, the flu vaccination must be given annually. The two reasons according to the CDC, “First, the body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, the formulation of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year and sometimes updated to keep up with changing flu viruses.”

Although there are relatively few side effects of the flu vaccination, there are people who oppose it. Some people do not bother receiving the vaccination because it is unknown just how effective the flu shot is against preventing the flu. Others are concerned that being given the flu shot might actually cause contraction of the illness, which is inaccurate. On the far end of the spectrum, there are also people out there who believe that flu vaccinations are actually a part of various government conspiracies.

One of these conspiracies includes the use of vaccinations to inject trackers into U.S. citizens. Another conspiracy theory is concerned with experimental weapons. In this instance, it is believed by some that vaccinations are used to inject biological and chemical weapons, as well as mind control techniques, into citizens.

At one point in my life I was unsure of the reliability of the flu shot, although not to the point of conspiracy. As I have learned more information about the flu vaccination, I have come to think that any possible benefits of the flu vaccination should be taken advantage of. In my opinion if you can prevent the flu in anyway, you should.