LAURA CUCURELLO — Staff Writer
The air is crisp, the temperature is dropping, and the fall season is finally settling in while many people at Southern Connecticut State University, like graduate student Kaitlynn Seipold, can’t help but think of something other than Halloween fun: flu season.
The influenza vaccine was given out to students, staff, and faculty members for free on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at the Health and Wellness Center as part of the National Women’s Health and Fitness Program.
“As a full-time teacher and graduate student,” said Seipold, “I don’t have time to catch the flu, which is why I like the fact that [the Health and Wellness Center] is offering the flu shot to students. I get a flu shot every year, and I think it is so convenient that they can go and get it here.”
Associate Director of the Health and Wellness Center Brigitte Stiles said although Oct. 5 has come and gone, people of Southern should not panic, as the flu vaccine is still being offered.
“We are currently offering flu shots at the Health and Wellness Center by appointment to faculty, staff, and students for $15,” said Stiles. “Those students with Aetna Student Health insurance can get the flu shot at no charge, as the insurance company will be reimbursing the University for the cost.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu shot is an inactivated vaccine that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. It contains three seasonal influenza viruses that are grown in eggs.
In addition to the regular vaccine, there are other flu shots given with a needle, including a high-dose flu shot for people 65 and older and an intradermal flu shot for people 18 to 64 years of age.
It is important to understand that the flu vaccine, while highly recommended, is not for everyone as it has its share of serious risks as all medications do, according to the CDC.
People should not get the flu vaccine if they have ever experienced a severe allergic reaction to eggs, had a serious reaction to a previous flu shot, and/or had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) after receiving an influenza vaccine. Only a doctor will help decide whether the vaccine is recommended or not.
Senior nursing major Alexander DeLuca said that since he works in the medical field, he thinks it is extremely important to receive the flu shot every year, as it is easy to catch the flu or any type of sickness in his place of work.
“Being an employee at the Hospital of St. Raphael’s, I come into contact with a lot of sick patients and people all the time,” said DeLuca. “The flu shot is now mandatory at the hospital for all employees, but even when it wasn’t I would still get it every year.”
Regardless of the risks involved when receiving the flu shot, such as having certain allergies, students like Seipold and DeLuca take their chances every year in order to avoid the potentially dangerous illness. However, other students, like business major Leslie Slater, have a better way of not catching the flu this season – avoiding the vaccine altogether.
“I personally never got [the flu shot] and never will,” said Slater. “I know people in my family have gotten very sick from getting the flu shot, which is why I never wanted it to begin with, and I have also heard stories from people I know also getting sick from it. What’s the point of getting the flu shot when you end up with the flu anyway?”
Though students like Slater think the flu shot is more of a curse than a blessing, the flu shot, according to the CDC, can not cause the flu illness because the viruses contained in flu shots are killed, meaning they cannot cause infection. Still, many people do become sick after receiving the vaccine, and although it may not be the vaccine itself, there is another reason for the flu–like symptoms. People may be exposed to an influenza virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two-week period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in a person becoming ill with the flu before the vaccine begins to protect them. People may also become ill from other viruses that circulate during the flu season which can cause flu-like symptoms.
While students like DeLuca, Seipold, and Slater have their own ways of avoiding the flu this year, Stiles said that the Wellness Center received a good amount of students, faculty, and staff who received their flu shots on Oct. 5 and the Center expects more people to come throughout the fall season.
“So far we have administered 125 doses,” said Stiles. “Annual flu vaccination is the most effective method for preventing the flu and its complications. I would recommend anyone who can get the flu vaccination to get immunized.”