GHC vaccinates 50 students for free at Fluapalooza

Last Wednesday, Nov. 5, the Graham Health Center was part of a vaccination-centered event in the OC called Fluapalooza, in reference to the Lollapalooza music festival.

By Kevin Teller

“Have you gotten your flu vaccine?”

It’s a question that people hear throughout the year, but what does that mean? Why should students get a flu shot?

“[Young people] do tend to have a respiratory failure from a very strong immune response [to the flu],” said Nancy Jansen, Director of the Graham Health Center. “That’s the understanding of it.”

Jansen asserts that not only do the “very young and very old” need flu shots, but everyone in between does as well.

Last Wednesday, Nov. 5, the Graham Health Center was part of a vaccination-centered event in the OC called Fluapalooza, in reference to the Lollapalooza music festival.

But instead of music, the purpose of this event was to give out 50 free vaccines to students, regardless of whether they had health insurance.

Nursing student Sean Czikora was one of the 50 to take advantage of this opportunity.

“I just figured I’d be safer this year,” Czikora said.

Czikora admitted that while there is sometimes controversy over the flu vaccination, he has no fear in receiving it.

“Your body responds more effectively to the live virus,” he said.

The “live virus” that Czikora mentioned is in reference to the type of vaccination that was used for Fluapalooza. A nasal mist was used, which is a vaccine that is taken through the nose, using no needles at all.

The live virus has been found to actually be more effective than a vaccine containing a killed vaccine. However, one should not consider this option if they are too old or too young, have a pre-existing health problem or are pregnant.

The vaccine is quadrivalent. This means that it will protect against four of the most common strains.

Half of the funding for the vaccines given out was from a grant from OU Student Affairs, and the other half came from Alana’s Foundation, according to JoAnna Yaksich.

Alana’s Foundation is a non-profit organization with the purpose of spreading the word about the seriousness of the flu and vaccination. It was founded by the family of 5-year-old Alana Yaksich, who died of the flu in 2003.

Yaksich, Alana’s aunt, played a large role in planning the event itself. She said that her goal was to make students more motivated to get the vaccination.

Also a part of the event was Patricia McCormick, mother of Ashley McCormick, the 23-year-old OU student who died of the flu last year.

“It’s not just the very old or very young,” McCormick said. “I don’t want this to happen to another family.”

Before Ashley’s death, no one in her family had considered receiving a flu vaccination. Since then, her entire family has stressed the importance of the vaccine for people of all ages.

The Campus Flu Vaccination Battle is something that students can take part in to raise awareness on their own as well. In order to do this, students who have received their flu vaccination already this season can go to www.surveymonkey.com/flubattle.

Once there, just check the bubbles that say you have received a flu shot and attend OU. Thirteen schools in Michigan are actively participating in this challenge, so this is a way to help represent what OU is doing.

For reasoning as to why, as a society, everyone should be vaccinated, the Graham Health Center’s Nancy Jansen looks to the example of the Spanish Influenza epidemic that claimed thousands of lives each day in the early 20th century.

The Graham Health Center has already requested another round of free vaccines from the manufacturer to do an event like this again. However, they also strongly urge students not to solely hold out for that and want everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Flu vaccines can be administered there at any time by appointment. To schedule, call the Graham Health Center at 248-370-2341.