By Jenise Jackson
Blog Content Contributor
Although it still feels like summertime here in good ol’ San Mo, we’ve technically entered influenza season. You probably received your “Take Your Best Shot” email from the university encouraging you to get your vaccination in order to prevent the spread of the flu virus on campus. You might also be one of those individuals questioning whether or not the flu shot is even worth it. As the famous idiom goes, better safe than sorry.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu virus causes millions of illnesses and thousands of deaths annually. Because of this, the flu vaccine is recommended for anyone over the age of six months. Plenty of people unexpectedly miss school and work days, along with lose money because they are too stubborn to just take the most cost-effective route of getting the simple vaccine. Since I’m easily prone to getting sick and I’m struggling enough with school as it is, I chose to get my flu shot as soon as possible to possibly prevent any illness in the near future. Although I can’t force you to go and get the flu vaccine like I did, I can try and convince you by giving you some information provided to me by my loyal physician, Dr. Mark Barnhardt.
Jenise Jackson: To start off, why is it recommended that people get the flu shot every year?
Dr. Barnhardt: Well, the flu virus is ever changing. What your immune system may be able to fight one year, it might not be able to fight the next. The flu shot is like that extra boost or defense to help combat the virus.
JJ: I’ve heard that a lot of people my age skip out on getting the flu shot because they believe the flu shot actually gives them the flu. Is this a fact or a myth?
Dr. Barnhardt: This is a myth that honestly stops a lot of people from getting the flu shot. People tend to believe the shot gives you the flu because flu shots are made two different ways. They are either made with flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are no longer infectious or they are made with no flu vaccine virus at all. Either way, the shot is not going to give you what it is trying to protect you from.
JJ: Now doc, I need you to give it to me straight. Is the flu shot truly effective?
Dr. Barnhardt: Well Jenise, it honestly all depends on the person. As you know, everyone is different and how the vaccine works one person may be different for someone else. However, I like to think that the more people vaccinated in the community contributes to the decrease in likelihood of the the virus spreading.
Dr. Barnhardt: Let me flip the script and ask you a question. Does your arm still hurt from getting the shot? (Laughs)
JJ: (Laughs) With that, this little interview is over.
Your health should always be a priority, so I would definitely say that the flu shot is worth getting. Who knows when or if we will see a true winter season here in our neck of the woods, but it’s better to be prepared just in case we do. For those interested, take advantage of the university’s “Take Your Best Shot” on October 17th in the Student Health Center Conference Room. And remember, it’s never too late to get vaccinated during flu season.
Featured Image courtesy of the Student Health Center