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February 16, 2024

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Though flu season off to slow start, shots are available throughout city, but benefits of immunizations debated

Many health professionals recommend seasonal influenza vaccines as a preventive measure.

But are they necessary?

“The flu changes every year, leaving one at risk if they do not receive the shot in a timely manner,” said Faith Yingling, director of Wellness. “It’s important to protect yourself against it.”

But when Ariella Centlivre received the flu shot years ago, she decided that she was more at risk with the shot.

“I have never been more sick in my life,” said Centlivre, a senior.

After getting the shot, Centlivre had symptoms resulting in strep throat and the flu. It was because the shot she received had the active virus in it in order to allow her body to know what the sickness was.

“I can just remember the pain that I went through of not being able to swallow and spitting into a cup for a whole day until my mom took me back to the doctor,” she said.

This was not the first time Centlivre got sick from receiving the shot. Her mother told her she needed to get the shot each year, but Centlivre finally had enough.

“I saw a pattern,” she explained. “I told my mom that I always get sick around the same time, which happened to be right after getting the shot.”

Because the vaccines now have updated medicine, students may get sick from the shot because they were already exposed to the flu prior to getting it, said Deb Busdeker, director of the Falcon Health Center.

“This is where confusion kicks in,” Busdeker said.

The medication in the shots are not injecting people with the active virus like some may think, but instead an immunity covering four different types of viruses.

“The shot does not go into effect until two weeks after receiving it,” Busdeker said.

There are two ways students can get the vaccine: the shot and nasal spray.

Yingling said that there may be mild side-effects for both types of injections.

The nasal spray, which is sprayed into the nostrils, may make people feel as though they are catching a cold. The shot, which is typically given on the arm, may cause achiness, a tender arm, or flu symptoms.

“I used to give my daughter a Tylenol before so it would relieve that pain later,” Busdeker said.

Even though the option of nasal spray is out there, Centlivre is still not convinced there would be a difference if she got it this year.

“To this day, I am still scarred from the memories of being so sick,” she said. “I just save myself a shot.”

Years later Centlivre still got extremely sick, but this time, without having received the vaccine.

“Yes, I still got sick but it was months after I would have gotten the shot anyway,” she said.

When students get the shot, it lasts for one to two years for a reason. The flu peaks around two times a year: January-February and April-May, Yingling said.

Because students at universities are around one another at a closer proximity, there is a higher risk of transmission, she said.

While the benefits of receiving the shot are high, students should still visit their health care provider to see if the shot is for them.

“Students should not get the shot if they have severe allergies or are allergic to chicken eggs,” Yingling said. “That’s right, the vaccine medicine is actually made with eggs from chickens.”

There are ways Busdeker said students can prevent sickness before and after receiving the shot or spray.

“Wash those hands, drink lots of fluids, rest up and take Tylenol before getting to help reduce tender and soreness,” Busdeker said.

Regardless of Busdeker’s advice for students, Centlivre refuses still to this day to get the shot.

“I’m going to get sick [with or without] the shot,” she said. “It’s just not worth it to me anymore.”

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