Vaccine misconceptions, myths impact epidemic

The flu season is upon us as an epidemic level has been declared in the US.

As everyone is urged to take precaution when feeling ill, citizens are also urged to go and get the flu vaccine in order to protect their health and wellbeing, which is met with controversy, of course.

Does the flu shot actually work?

Medical professionals say yes, other people say no. In America, there is a healthy but sometimes negative skepticism of individuals who actually work in fields that should have the public’s wellbeing in mind. As students on a college campus, we’re taught to evaluate what sources to pull information from and what not to pull information from, and this talent and ability shouldn’t just be limited to writing papers, but making decisions in everyday life.

Or, in better terms, the medical professionals are a solid source, such as scholarly sources or academic papers, while someone on a blog or an answer board is the same as using Wikipedia as a source, which is a no-no when it comes to paper writing. Unlike the individual hiding behind a screen name on an answer board, a medical professional has done what you’re in the process of doing — getting their degree in that field. They know what they’re talking about.

Another reason why to not get the flu vaccine is people say they had the vaccinations, but wound up getting sick afterwards. Therefore, the vaccine didn’t work. But that is not the case.

Every year, vaccines are created with three strains of the flu that are thought to be the most common in the upcoming year. The flu mutates every year and has many different strains, the two of the three strains included in this year’s shot being H1N1 and H3N2; meaning that it is most likely that this individual was taken ill by a strain the vaccine was not meant for. The flu has many disguises, but the vaccines are made to target only what is thought to be the most common strains. Sometimes, parts of the strain that are included in the shot also protect one’s immunity system from being attacked by similar strains that have the same genetic makeup as the strain listed.

If an individual becomes sick within two weeks of being vaccinated, the vaccination did not have time to build up an immunity that would fight off the invading cells.

Being a student studying and going to school on a college campus, I know how exposed I am to a number of diseases and viruses, especially living in residence halls. I wish I could say students are creatures capable of keeping bathrooms clean, but that is not true.

While there is a list of personal hygiene and communal bathroom rules that should be shared, only one during flu season is rather important: washing hands. Avoid touching places like mouth, nose, and eyes to prevent the spread of germs. When you have to cough or sneeze, be sure to do it in a tissue (and throw it away) or in the crook of your elbow to avoid the spread of airborne particles. Avoid large groups of people and even going to class (providing you have the days to miss).

Another way to prevent getting sick or spreading the sickness and what isn’t really mentioned on government sites, or anywhere else for the matter, is cell phones. Studies show that our cell phones, objects that we hold up to our heads and in our hands, are oftentimes dirtier than a toilet seat.

In the day and age of everyone having some type of handheld device, it’s still not recognized that these stables of our everyday life can harbor the germs that make us sick. For those using a smartphone, a microfiber cloth will do the job, along with getting rid of any fingerprint smudges. For those who are still using older phones, there are different ways of cleaning phones, along with keyboards and tablets.

Let’s keep the University healthy, my fellow Falcons!

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