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Medical official urges 'herd immunity' to protect against flu contagion

Published: Monday, January 21, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 01:01

After the first week of classes, the flu season has taken a toll on students. During the past two weeks, 22 students have been diagnosed with the flu and more than 700 were diagnosed with a flu-like illness, according to Medical Services associate director David Teller.

“It is more common for students to be diagnosed with the flu because they’re always together,” Teller said.

Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can be easily spread with a cough or sneeze. It’s a very sudden illness that has a quick onset. Usual flu symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

“Students can prevent illness by getting the flu shot, constantly washing their hands and staying away from sick people,” Teller said. “We do have a medication if students are diagnosed with the flu and we advise them to not go to class.”

Student Health Services attempted to promote flu prevention on campus by reaching out to students with their annual flu shot campaign last October. On average, each year they would give 5,000 to 5,300 flu shots. However, in 2012 there was less demand and only 3,500 shots were administered in various locations on campus.

“This is my first year on a college campus, so I thought maybe I should get a flu shot,” Emma Jaspersen, freshman biomedical engineering major said. “It was free in The Commons lobby. I got mine there.”

Getting a flu vaccination is the single best way to prevent contracting the virus. Antibodies that protect against the flu develop about two weeks after vaccination.

“I don’t get sick that often, so I didn’t think I needed a flu shot,” Hannah Kunz, freshman business major said. “The one year I did get the shot I got the flu anyway.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that anyone six months and older get the vaccination each year in an effort to increase protection against the flu and spread awareness.

“I got my flu shot a few weeks ago,” Eric Vavra, sophomore chemical engineering major said. “I wasn’t planning on getting one, but over the break my family had the flu so I went and got a shot.”

It is important for students to get vaccinated because they are more exposed to the virus than others. Vaccinations are still available at Beutel upon request.

“It’s a herd immunity,” Teller said. “The more people to get the shot, the fewer people are likely to catch the virus.”


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