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Time to get the vaccination

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | JANUARY 21, 2013 6:30 AM

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As students once again move into heavily populated dorms and apartment buildings in Iowa City, the influenza virus spreading throughout the nation should serve as a reminder to get vaccinated.

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year’s flu is above epidemic threshold levels. Although the flu is considered only moderately active in the state of Iowa, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics reports that the flu is becoming more active in this part of the state. In order to address the still prevalent flu, the UIHC is hosting a flu clinic at the Iowa River Landing today.  

Any individual who has not yet received a flu shot should take the few minutes out of the day and protect from the possibility of the flu by getting one.

In the United States, all people over the age of 6 months are recommended to get a flu shot. College students are generally considered less likely to be seriously infected with the virus, but that is no reason not to be vaccinated.

Students should be healthy for their own sakes and also to protect those around them. While many otherwise healthy college students may only suffer mildly from the flu, they could expose less healthy people, especially children and elderly people to the very harmful disease.

Since October 2012, nearly 30 have infants died due to influenza, and more than 5,000 hospitalizations were reported.

However, the vaccine decreases the likelihood of contracting the flu by 62 percent. That means that the chances of getting the flu after receiving the shot are less than half the chances of contracting the flu without the shot.

Still, it seems that college students need greater convincing. According to a study released in December from the Journal of American College Health, only one in five college students reported getting the flu shot, even when it’s free.

Though it is not entirely clear why students are failing to get the shot, the CDC does offer information to help clarify its safety, because there are many myths claiming that the vaccine is dangerous.

One common myth is that the shot can cause the flu because the vaccine contains a strain of the virus. This is not the case. The virus contained in the shot is not live, and the CDC closely monitors reactions to the flu shot. Most often, if there is any reaction, it is mild and generally includes soreness at the site of the injection.

Still, some fear that those who are allergic to eggs cannot receive the shot. While this was true in years past, the CDC along with the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization developed a new method for creating the vaccine that does not include eggs, but rather insects. The new method allows the vaccine to be created more quickly and without posing a risk to those with allergies.

The flu shot must be administered every year. The flu virus has the ability to change itself over time, and the vaccine addresses those changes. Physicians, researchers, and university officials are working hard to decrease the spreading of the flu, but it is not effective until students and community members take the initiative and get their vaccinations.


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