Vaccination Nation

By Oona Goodin-Smith

We hear and see it everywhere from the chronic sniffler in the back of the lecture hall to the frequently empty chair next to us in class. Flu season has come to OU, and this year, it’s at an all-time high.

“Flu has already come to Michigan this season, causing an unusually high number of severe cases and hospitalizations for this time of year,” said Michigan Department of Community Health Chief Medical Executive Dr. Matthew Davis. “Vaccination is a very effective way to protect ourselves and our communities against flu, every year.”

“I call [getting vaccinated] cheap insurance,” said Nancy Jansen, director of the Graham Health Center.

“It’s so much better to suck it up and get the shot than get sick.” 

According to Jansen, so far this year “well over 300” students and faculty members, a number much higher than in previous winters, have taken advantage of the vaccinations offered at the GHC.

Despite the heightened interest in the vaccination at OU this year, Jansen said that still “not enough students view getting their flu shot as a priority.”

Estimates from last flu season show that only 40.8 percent of Michigan residents were vaccinated against the flu. Out of that, according to Michigan’s immunization registry, only 9 percent of residents ages 18-24 and 11 percent of residents between 25-49 received the flu vaccine.

According to the MDCH website, “any flu infection carries a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among healthy children and adults.”

H1N1, this year’s most prevalent strain of flu virus, but the traditional flu vaccine defends against it.

“There’s still some resistance to the shot out there,” Jansen said. “It’s declined a lot throughout the years but we’ve still got a ways to go.”

OU senior Anna Maria Tucci had the flu earlier this season but says she’s skeptical on the vaccine’s effectiveness. 

“I’ve actually never gotten a flu shot before,” she said. “I don’t know if I even believe that they actually work.”

“We expect this is just the beginning of the flu season that will likely last for the next few months,” Dr. Davis said. 

 “It’s never too late to vaccinate,” Jansen said.

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