The yearly pestilence is on its way once again. Over the next few months, dorms and off-campus housing will be overrun with students with runny noses, fevers and upset stomachs. Shelves that were once replete with chicken noodle soup cans will be as barren as Siberia during the wintertime.
That is, if y’all don’t get your flu shots.
The wonders of modern science have blessed us with a viable method of preventing the contraction of influenza. Like the vaccines that students need before they enter UNC (or any public school in North Carolina, for that matter) the flu vaccine can do a great deal of service in helping keep you healthy. By exposing yourself to a weak version of the flu virus, you can train your immune system to fight the more dangerous versions of them later on.
Aside from the obvious position of standing as a bulwark against the threat of yourself getting sick, getting your flu shot can also aid in the health of your fellow students. According to the principle of “herd immunity,” more people with flu shots in a community means less people sick from the flu. But since the flu vaccine is only 40-60 percent effective among those who get the vaccine, the concept of herd immunity doesn’t really apply here, and you should protect yourself by getting the shot.
The CDC estimates that as many as 5.3 million cases of influenza in the United States were prevented by the flu vaccine during the 2016-17 flu season.
Of course, someone may have concerns about the potential ill-effects of vaccines. Some, for instance, fear that vaccines can actually give you the flu. Fear not, flu vaccines carry dead or extremely weak versions of the virus, which are incapable of making you sick. The worst side effects in adults that could occur are a low-grade fever or minor aches. Others may have a fear of needles that prevents them from getting the flu shot. But many clinics now offer a version of the vaccine that can be delivered via a nasal spray.
UNC provides flu shots that are covered by most insurance, including the school’s Blue Cross program. The University and its students have been so good about getting vaccinated, in fact, that UNC Campus Health Services won an award for having the most students vaccinated among medium-sized schools.
If you don’t want to get a vaccine from the school, however, there are other options; local pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens and Target offer vaccines. With all of the locations to get vaccinations in and around Chapel Hill, it almost seems harder not to get one.
Despite how convenient it is to get a flu shot, I guarantee some of you won’t get one, even if you have the means.