Flu Season: a time full of coughing, doctors’ visits and lots of tissues. At a large school like MSU, the question on many students minds is whether or not it’s worth getting the flu shot this late in the season.
For sophomore Valerie Morel, getting the flu shot this year was never in question.
“I’m pretty sure I have gotten the flu shot every year.” Morel said. “This year in particular I know a lot of people around campus are getting sick and I wanted to give myself the best possible chance of not catching the flu.”
Unlike Morel, sophomore John Seno doesn’t plan on getting a flu shot this year.
“I haven’t gotten a flu shot in a long time. I think the last time was when I was in elementary school and my mom made me,” Seno said. “I haven’t gotten sick yet so I don’t regret my decision.”
Seno said the only way he will get a flu shot this year is if his friends or roommates start getting sick. Until then, Seno just plans on “using common sense” and avoiding those who are sick.
For some, the vaccination has never been worth the risk. Sophomore Jessica Arnold has never gotten a flu shot, but with plans to travel to Liberia this spring, she thought she may need to get the flu shot to prevent herself from getting sick overseas.
“I went to the MSU Travel Clinic to get my flu shot, but they advised me not to,” Arnold said. “They said I should be fine because I’ve never gotten the flu and I’ve never gotten vaccinated before.”
Like many, Arnold is skeptical of vaccines and the ability they have to prevent a person from getting sick. Vaccines have never been a priority for Arnold because she believes the side effects of the vaccine often don’t outweigh the benefit.
According to Dawn Boechler, nursing administrator at Olin Health Center, getting the flu shot typically reduces a person’s risk of contracting the flu by about 60 percent, so she said it is important that students still get vaccinated. She said it is especially important for high-risk patients, such as people with diabetes and asthma, to get their flu shot because they are at a greater risk for complications from the flu than the average person.
Cough, fever, headaches and soreness at the injection site are some of the possible side effects of the flu shot, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). While the symptoms are similar to the side effects, according to the CDC a person cannot get the flu from the vaccine.
Inevitably, some students will get sick. When this happens, Boechler said there are steps students can take to make sure they get better quickly while making sure their disease doesn’t spread. When a student first gets sick, they can call the 24/7 nurse information phone line at 517-353-5557 through Olin Health Center and talk to a nurse who can help assess whether they need to see a doctor or not.
Besides the nurse information line, students can visit Olin Health Center located at 463 East Circle Drive or one of the four neighborhood clinics around campus (127 South Hubbard Hall, W-9 West McDonel Hall, 148 Brody Hall and to get treated for their illnesses. In addition to getting treated for current illnesses, flu shots are still available at Olin Health Center.
Basic health measures like washing your hands or using hand sanitizer can also help prevent the spread of the flu and other diseases, said Boechler.
“Kindergarteners have it right… Students need to cough or sneeze into their elbow in order to prevent the spread of germs,” Boechler said.
There are still ways for people to prevent themselves from getting sick even if they choose not to get vaccinated this year. MSU Coordinator of Health Education Dennis Martell said one of the best things students can do to prevent themselves from getting the flu is eating a well-balanced diet, getting 8 hours of sleep a night and limiting stress and anxiety.
Because MSU is one of the largest universities in the United States, students need to take precautions so they don’t get sick or get their peers sick.
“Do not go to class if you have a fever,” said Martell. “Stay home and wait until it has been gone for 24 hours.”