Experts: Flu shot may avert sickness

Paying to get stuck with a needle may seem far from enjoyable, but experts say the benefits of the flu shot are worth the initial sting.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site, 5 percent to 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year and the best prevention from getting the bug is to get a vaccination every fall.

Laura Crawley, assistant dean of Campus Life for health promotions , said students need to get a yearly flu shot.

“If students haven’t gotten a flu shot this year, then get to the Health Center and get one,” Crawley said. “The season starts in the early fall, but doesn’t peak until winter and we see cases even into April and May.”

Crawley said the vaccine is 90 percent effective for healthy young adults and 400 TCU students have already been vaccinated this year at the Health Center. She said the Health Center and clinics all around Tarrant County have many vaccines left.

“The availability of flu shots is different from last year,” Crawley said. “Last year we ran out in late fall, but this year we have more than enough.”

Crawley said the demand for the vaccine varies each year because of factors including the specific strain of influenza and how widespread the virus is.

Crawley said Tarrant County has not yet seen a high incidence of the flu, but stressed that the season is not over and incidence levels can easily rise.

“The problem is that TCU students come from everywhere,” Crawley said. “Students can go home for a weekend, come back and unknowingly spread it to other students.”

In order to prevent spreading, Crawley said, the Health Center urges students to get the shot.

Mark Bloom, instructor of biology, cleared the air of a common misconception about the flu shot.

Bloom said the flu shot cannot directly cause the flu because the vaccines are made of flu strains that have been killed.

“Because the flu viruses are dead,” Bloom said, “there is no way for them to cause an infection.”

Crawley said in addition to the flu shot, basic health practices such as hand washing, proper covering of coughing and sneezing and good nutrition are ways to keep immune systems healthy and prevent illnesses.

“You’d have to ask (Minister to the University Angela) Kaufman if cleanliness is really next to godliness,” Crawley said, “but I can tell you that long-term studies suggest that cleanliness is most certainly next to healthiness.”

Junior nursing majors Allison Parnell and Stephanie Kruep said that along with routine hygiene practices, eating right and regular exercise are extremely important.

“If you eat right and exercise, your body is already healthy, and the healthier your body is, the better it can fight off illnesses.” Kruep said.

Flu shots are available at the Health Center and cost $20.