Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
By Renee Tedder, Staff Writer
Every year many people choose not to get the flu shot. They may think it is arbitrary and it does not matter in the grand scheme of things, but for certain groups, it can mean life and death.
As Aiden Polce, a member of the greater Lehigh Valley community, understands it, “[The flu is] transmitted by people who already have it and it’s spread by coughing, sneezing, water droplets, such as when people don’t cover their faces…” The importance of getting the flu shot to avoid such ease of transmission, which most people are familiar with, is ever more critical when considering those risk groups.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women, people older than 65, people that have malfunctions in their immune systems, and children younger than 5 are at a high risk of complications from the flu.
For people that are in these high risk groups, getting the flu can be life threatening. In February, CNN reported a pregnant woman in Arkansas miscarried and later died after contracting the virus after she was told, incorrectly, to delay getting the vaccine.
Even people outside these risk groups should get the vaccine to help prevent the spread of the disease and to protect others from the flu. This is called herd immunity.
“I’ll be honest, I used to be the person who said ‘I never get the flu, so why should I get the vaccine.’ Now I know that getting the vaccine just boosts my immune system, and diminishes the chance that I will pass the virus to others. At school, a lot of us are sleep deprived and stressed, so our immune system takes a hit, and we’re in such close proximity that if one person gets it, everyone gets it. So why take the chance?” says Julia Kelly, a senior Genetic Engineering major.
Terry Burger, Registered Nurse and the Director Infection Control and Prevention at Leigh Valley Health Network, noticed “an improved response [to getting the flu shot] as awareness about the associated morbidity and mortality of flu has increased.”
Burger explained, “Flu strains change every year, so a flu shot is needed annually.”
Cedar Crest College Health Services has participated each year in distributing flu vaccines to the campus community.
Kelly is happy that the school gives these vaccines out for free because her healthcare provider is not local. She also said that she appreciates that Health Services has veterans who have given many shots, as it eases the worries of those who don’t like needles, like herself. She got the vaccine while Health Services was giving them out this year.
This year the school intended a three day vaccine schedule starting October 8, but ran out of vaccine on the first day, as reported in a campus-wide email distributed by Nancy Roberts, the director of Health Services.
The Allentown Health Bureau also runs a free flu vaccine clinic every Friday from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. for Allentown residents. Appointments can be made by calling 610-437-7754 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.