Each year flu season occurs in the fall and winter months in America, lasting roughly from October until March. The peak of the seasonal epidemic tends to fall between December and March, though it is not unusual for cases to be reported as late in the year as May.
Each year Tech’s Health Services department strive to vaccinate as many students, faculty and staff of the Institute as possible, to protect the community from this easily communicable disease.
Any Tech student can receive the vaccine for free, and any Tech faculty can receive it for $25. Vaccines can be requested by specific appointment, during a doctor’s visit for another complaint, or during the all day clinics on Oct. 18 and Nov. 15, both from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
This season, the nasally administered FluMist vaccine is not available at Stamps, in keeping with the Center for Disease Control’s findings that it was not effective enough last year and is unlikely to be as effective as the injection this year.
This year the CDC also recommends that unless one has an extreme allergy to eggs, they should still receive the vaccine; this comes as a break from prior years, where more personal discretion in receiving the vaccine was allowed for.
Those with egg allergies may potentially be irritated by egg proteins which are present in both the flu shot and the flu mist; however, egg allergies vary in severity and most patients with mild allergies will not experience any detrimental effects from the vaccine.
Serious reactions due to the egg protein are rare — one study by the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting system recorded only ten anaphylactic allergic reactions in 7.4 million doses of the vaccine, and only a fraction of those reactions were thought to be related to egg protein allergies.
While Health Services has not seen much influenza yet this season, it is important to receive a shot by Thanksgiving so that the body has time to build up antibodies for the worst of the season to come. The Health Center’s goal this year is to give out as many shots as they possibly can. Student organizations can inquire with the department about getting a miniature clinic scheduled, on-site, for their group.
“If you could spend less than 30 minutes on something and improve your chances of passing a test by 35–50 percent, of course you would do it,” said Debbie Spillers, nursing manager at Student Health Services. “The flu shot will improve your chances of avoiding the flu by at least that much, and that means 5–7 days of good health over the next few months that your would lose otherwise.”
Stamps will do their best to immunize everyone that walks through the door, according to Spillers. It is highly recommended that anyone with a compromised immune system or chronic respiratory problems get the vaccine. However, even in healthy individuals the vaccine acts as an assurance of avoiding the flu; and, furthermore, as an assurance of herd immunity to protect those with compromised immune systems like the young and elderly.