Flu season is upon us, and last January, many students at the University of Richmond were affected, whether they had gotten the flu vaccine or not.
Some students prefer to not get the flu shot, and others, including senior Hannah Hickey, have been advised to by their doctors to get it.
"I got my flu shot in September because I have asthma,” Hickey said. “Sometimes, though, I still get the flu each year, but I know that even if the flu shot didn’t predict the right strains for that year, it can help a lot with my symptoms.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu, but those who do get the flu after they received the vaccine could be getting infected by a different strain of the influenza. Each year, the vaccine is made to best combat the current virus, but the vaccine usually takes two weeks to kick in, according to the CDC.
The vaccine takes two weeks to kick in because the shot stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies using killed flu virus, so it cannot transmit the flu to you or “give” you the flu, Dr. Lynne Deane, the medical director for the health center, said.
The CDC recommends getting the flu shot by the end of October because the first cases of the flu typically show up around mid-November.
Lynne Watson, practice manager in the Student Health Center, said the center had vaccinated 220 students at flu clinics this year.
“Last year, 162 students were seen at the Student Health Center for influenza virus illnesses,” Watson said.
The reason the flu typically shows up during the winter months is because people do not get as much vitamin D as they would during other seasons, according to the CDC.
Sophomore Anabella Escudero-Retana is studying abroad from Venezuela and does not plan on getting her flu shot this year, but she did get it the previous year when an American family recommended it, she said.
“I don’t know if I will get it because as a student who is from another country and studying abroad here, it isn’t something I used to get at home, so it’s not really on my radar,” Escudero-Retana said.
Although senior Lily Howlett did not get the flu last year and has never been infected, she said she still planned on getting the flu shot this year.
“It's something that I've done every year that I can remember, and now it's just a habit when flu season rolls around,” Howlett said.
In a poll conducted in two sections of a biology course at UR, 21 of the 38 students polled said they were planning on receiving the vaccine, and 17 said they were not.
Contact news writer Sophie Pilkington at firstname.lastname@example.org.