Busting the Flu Myths

By Chelsea Vitone

Tis the season for runny noses, scratchy throats and phlegmy coughs. The common cold runs rampant between October and March and, unfortunately, so does the flu but at least the latter can be prevented. In the 1950s, the first influenza vaccine was created, and by 2004 it was added to the vaccination list of all school-aged children.

Since the highrisk range for complications due to the flu mainly affect young children and the elderly, not to mention those pesky side effects of the shots, many college students may decide to forgo the vaccination.  But is that the best choice?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013, Student Health Services (SHS) provided a free flu shot clinic for UWT students, packing the Mattress Factory. Licensed Professional Nurse, Erin DeGraffenreid, acknowledges that the biggest misconception about flu shots is that people think they will get sick.

DeGraffenreid reminds students that the virus in the vaccine is not active, and cannot give them the flu. It may slow the immune system down a bit afterward, but will pick back up and protect them from influenza.  

No one waiting in line for their shot fell for another myth, thinking it is better to get the flu than the vaccine. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), influenza is a serious virus, especially to those with compromised immune systems. Even if one may feel healthy, the germs they carry could be a potential threat to others who may be more prone to complications.

People don’t really need the flu vaccine every year, do they? A third myth is busted with a resounding yes. As made public with the H1N1, more commonly known as swine flu, the majority of people are now aware of the shifting composition of influenza. Every year the strands of flu may differ and change, which makes it crucial to make sure you are getting the most current protection for the known strands each year. Student Health Services (SHS) have students covered for the 2013/2014 year.

Twins Sean and Tracie Huynh were one protected family as they both took the shot, one after the other, accepting the campus’ offer for flu protection.

Other students interested in the flu vaccine can find SHS located in Laborers Hall (LBH) 102 at 1742 Market Street, Suite 102. Open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., offering UWT students flexible walk-in times as well as scheduled appointment times.

Nurse Practitioner at SHS, Heather Gulian, points out that free flu shots are not only for temporary clinics at the MAT building, but any time at their permanent location. Other immunizations are also available such as Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (TDAP) and PPD Tuberculosis test.  Students can contact SHS by calling 253-692-5811, or dropping by the clinic.