In the United States, flu season begins in October and lasts until about late May.
In Washington, many pharmacies such as those at Walgreens, Bartell Drugs and Rite Aid are providing flu immunizations, but the question remains: Are the shots worth it?
It varies when it comes to students’ opinions. Griffin Silver isn’t sure about the flu vaccination’s ability to help people fight disease.
“I don’t think the flu immunizations are worth it,” he said. “People should really let their immune systems develop in order to prepare themselves to fight off these strains of disease without being so overly nurtured they end up getting sick.”
Some students, such as Julie Gentzel, said it’s important for students and others to get the flu immunization.
“These immunizations are definitely worth it,” Gentzel said. “Our immune systems can only handle so much and you are less likely to get sick than you would without the immunization. People think that since new strands of the virus change every year there isn’t a point to get the immunizations. They end up not getting them, putting themselves at a greater risk for getting sick.”
Some students haven’t decided whether flu shots are worth it.
“I’m generally unsure,” student Ernesto Alegria said. “I don’t like the needle personally, and to be honest I’m neutral on the whole topic. Who honestly knows what the better choice is since people may end up catching the flu either way.”
For most students it’s not the side effects that are the concern; it’s whether or not the immunization will actually work in combating the flu.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the flu immunization, or nasal-spray flu vaccine, takes about two weeks before antibodies are prepared to combat infections.
The misconception by many is that the flu immunizations are the cure-all end-all to influenza when in reality, it helps protects from the flu, but there is no guarantee that one wouldn’t still be able to contract the virus.
Specific strains of the flu can be treated, but the flu virus mutates and changes every year, so not all the strains of the flu can be taken care of with a simple flu shot.
Puyallup campus nursing faculty member Elizabeth Webber, a registered nurse, said flu vaccinations are the best protection.
“Flu viruses are circulating in the population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine, either the flu immunization or the nasal-spray flu vaccine, is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that we will spread it to others,” Webber said. “When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community. So I vote for getting vaccinated, for you and for those you love.”
However, people who have a severe allergy to eggs or children less than six months of age shouldn’t be vaccinated.
It’s important to get a flu vaccine every year, Webber said, even if people were vaccinated last season because flu viruses are constantly changing and it’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year.
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