Flu activity is low in the United States but is expected to increase in the coming weeks, according to the FluView report for the 2014-2015 flu season. College students are at a higher risk of coming down with the flu due to confined living spaces and always being around other people. But according to a study researched at the University of Buffalo, the majority of college students do not get vaccinated.
Tech students voiced why they believe other students do not get vaccinated, or why they choose to get vaccinated or not.
“Some people haven’t had the flu, so they think they won’t,” said Brooke Norris, nursing major and advocate for the flu shot.
Macy Wright, another nursing major, believes the price of the flu shot offered at Health Services influences students’ decision of receiving the flu shot.
“It is $18 at the Health Services,” said Wright. “Some people are struggling and can’t afford that.”
Elizabeth Pulley, an engineering major planning on getting her flu shot soon, believes some students just don’t think of the flu shot as a priority.
“College students just don’t care,” said Pulley.
Some students’ history plays a role in receiving the flu vaccine.
Elementary education majors Sierra Hill and Hailey Cobble have never received the vaccine and plan on never getting it.
Cobble’s reasoning for not getting the flu shot is one of many people’s concerns regarding the flu shot: the fear of getting the flu from the shot itself.
Unlike Hill and Cobble, pre-pharmacy major Jordan Hileman has received her flu vaccine this year and has her whole life.
“I was raised to get one (flu shot) every year,” said Hileman.
Sarah Smith, lab-coordinator of Whitson-Hester School of Nursing, addresses why a flu vaccine should be a priority to Tech students.
“College kids are always in groups and in groups you are sharing germs. You are at risk without the flu vaccine,” said Smith.
Smith also addresses some student’s concerns. She identifies Cobble’s fear of getting the virus from the vaccine as one of the biggest misconceptions of the flu vaccine.
Smith explains that the flu vaccine contains strings of an inactivated virus that produces an immune response that comes with some side effects including a low-grade fever. Even the nasal spray, an alternative to the vaccine shot, has side effects of nasal congestion and a runny nose.
Smith also noted the flu shot takes two weeks to fight the virus, and if someone who received the flu shot but gets sick could have been exposed to the flu prior to receiving the shot.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over the age of 6 months to get the flu vaccine, and asks college institutions to remind students to get the flu vaccine.
Even though Smith recommends getting the flu shot to Tech students, everybody is responsible for their own health.
“It is your own health and everybody has the potential of spreading germs. A professor shouldn’t have to say ‘wash your hands’ unless it is a part of the curriculum,” said Smith.
She does support investing in flyers or reminders that are already in the bathroom around campus reinforcing the concept of washing your hands.
Smith’s advice for students who do have flu symptoms or are diagnosed with the flu: “Don’t go to class, and let your professor know why. You increase the risk of spreading (the flu) if you do.”
According to the CDC, flu symptoms consist of: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle and body aches, headaches, fatigue and vomiting or diarrhea.
Most insurance plans and Medicaid cover the vaccination, but if not insured the flu shot is offered at a variety of places around town, including Tech Health Services for $18 and an appointment is needed. Walgreens Pharmacy offers the vaccination for $31.99 but is 10 percent off with a Walgreens prescription savings club and no appointment is needed. Andy’s Pharmacy offers it for $20 and no appointment is needed. CVS offers the vaccination for $31.99 with a 20 percent off on a shopping pass the day you get the vaccine and no appointment is needed.