Flu Season Calls for Flu Shot, Most Not Getting It

By Gianna Ward

Informal poll on campus showed 95 percent of students don’t get the flu shot even in this atypical flu season.

In February on College of Southern Nevada’s North Las Vegas campus, 100 students were asked several questions: if they got the flu shot, did they get the flu, and reason they did or did not get the vaccine. Several polled did not have a good reason for avoiding the flu shot but some claimed it wasn’t necessary or that the flu shot was ineffective.

“This year’s flu season is the worst because according to some doctors, the flu shot that some people had does not cover the new strain of the virus,” says Jeannette Magbutay, nursing instructor at CSN. “There are more sick people with the flu than last year. What I observed is that it happens every other year that new strain of virus or bacteria appears.”

Typically pharmaceutical companies develop vaccines for the flu strains they anticipate in advance. Unfortunately this year, a new form hit. “So the pharmaceutical companies had to develop a new flu shot that will cover the new strain this year’s flu season and will use that flu shot next year, which will work until a new strain of the virus or bacteria will surface,” Magbutay says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in research conducted Nov. 2 to Feb. 3, estimated the overall effectiveness of the vaccine against the prominent strain of the flu—Influenza A(H3N2)—is 36 percent.

CSN student Viera Hill has concerns about the ineffectiveness of this season’s vaccinations. She has not had the flu shot for years.

“I’m a biology major and it causes me to be very wary of most vaccinations,” Hill says. “Especially considering that they aren’t always as effective. And all the different vaccinations can cause your body to be so busy fighting and making antibodies that may not even be necessary but it could weaken your immune system and actually make you sick.”

Even though there are issues with the vaccine’s effectiveness, the flu outbreak this year is cause for concern and the vaccine might pose a defense.

According to the Southern Nevada Health District, in a report dated Feb. 11 to 17, Nevada is one of the 39 states experiencing elevated influenza-like illnesses. There were 1,084 cases of which 814 have been hospitalized and 25 passed away from the flu this season. That is a 57 percent increase over last year’s statistics.

Some of the benefits of getting vaccinated include less severe side effects.

“People who did receive the flu vaccine are less likely to be hospitalized because of the flu and less likely to get dangerous flu-related complications like pneumonia and other kinds of devastating health effects,” says America Davis, project coordinator in public outreach at Immunize Nevada, a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to vaccinations.

“I can only think of the times I was in college and had gotten sick around flu season,” Davis says. “It would usually be around very critical periods of the semester. This could be in December when you are approaching finals or at the beginning of spring semester. So we definitely encourage college students to think about that the next time the flu season comes around.”

David Perez, another project coordinator at Immunize Nevada, says, “When you get the flu vaccine it’s not just about yourself. It’s about protecting everyone around you. People think about it as a personal choice but you’re really helping protect the child that has a compromised immune system who can’t get vaccinated or a grandmother or grandfather who has a weakened immune system because of their age.”

Perez says it’s important to make sure that people are washing their hands, using soap, covering sneezes and staying home if sick for up to 48 hours even if the symptoms are gone to avoid possibly still infecting others.

“This year’s flu season is worse than last year,” Magbutay says. “I can’t blame some students who didn’t get the flu shot. It might not be effective for them. The only way to convince them to have one is to give presentations on pros and cons of getting a flu shot and maybe giving them an incentive to be able to encourage them to have that flu shot.”

One incentive that students can pursue is at CVS Pharmacy. It is offering a no-cost flu shot that comes with a coupon to the store.

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