Graham Health Center Partakes In The Campus Flu Challenge For A Fourth Year

The Graham Health Center is leading Oakland University for a fourth year in the annual Campus Flu Challenge, a state-wide initiative to encourage young adults to be vaccinated for the flu.

“Everyone over the age of six months should receive a flu vaccine every year,” said Nancy Jansen, a nurse practitioner at the GHC. “Everyone is susceptible to the deadly disease and even young adults die from the flu.”

The GHC is offering walk-ins for free vaccines on Wednesdays from 3 – 5 p.m. for students who are both insured and uninsured. For those who are insured, the price of the flu vaccine is covered. For those without insurance or have insurance that is not accepted by the GHC, a grant provided by Alana’s Foundation will cover the fee.

Last year, the GHC alone gave out nearly 700 vaccines, over half of which were free.

Alana’s Foundation, which began in 2009 after the Yaksich family lost their five-year-old daughter Alana to the flu, is a non-profit dedicated to educating people about the security of the flu and the importance of vaccinating against the flu every year.

While many vaccines were given last year, there were about 16 cases of the flu that came to the GHC alone.

“Truth be told, there were probably four or five times that many who had it,” Jansen said.

She said that is a number that can be reduced when individuals get vaccinated.

Generally, individuals do not get the flu vaccine because they either think they can not get the flu or simply do not like shots. The GHC is combatting this with the “Busy Bee,” a vibrating bee placed on the arm while the shot is being administered.

The stigma against vaccines creates a barrier as well.

“There are a number of students who are concerned about the side effects,” Jansen said. “There has been a lot of anti-vaccination misinformation for the past 10 to 20 years.”

This belief focuses on not just vaccines for sicknesses such as measles or chickenpox, but to the flu vaccine as well. In many cases, the stigma against the flu vaccine is more prominent.

“While a lot of education is given to new parents and younger adults about why vaccines are important and the benefits they have, a lot of people still fear vaccines,” said Kaitlyn Brown, a medical student at Oakland University and Nurse Assistant at Beaumont. “A lot fear they won’t help at all.”

It is possible to experience discomfort or slight side effects, but the overall goal is to prevent an individual from getting sick when coming into contact with someone who does have the virus and was not vaccinated.

For most cases, the flu vaccine is totally safe and effective with a 50 percent immunity rate. Those who do still get the flu will have a much milder case.

It has also been shown that over time, an individual can gain even stronger immunity by getting a flu shot each year.

“The more we learn, the more we can prevent ourselves from getting sick,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, that is what everyone wants, to be healthy.”