By Stephanie Garza SAN ANTONIO—One of the hottest debates taking over social media and dividing families is whether to get the flu shot. The influenza virus is typically spread through the air when we cough, sneeze or come in close contact with people which happens here on campus. Some people view the flu shot as another recommended vaccine they get because they want to protect themselves and help control the spread of infectious diseases. For others, getting the flu shot is just asking for trouble. One of the main reasons why people decline the flu vaccination is because they believe they will get sick after getting the shot. “Vaccines are made very differently than when our grandmothers were young and no longer cause this type of reaction,” Dr. Julie Stuckey, Director of Health Services at Our Lady of the Lake University said. While this topic is one we like to argue about, it is a very serious issue. “The morbidity and mortality of this year’s influenza outbreak will show devastating numbers,” said Stuckey. In Texas alone, around 2,897 people have died from the flu since October. Students, faculty and staff should pay attention because the Influenza virus can cause economic burdens as well. “A severe outbreak can close communities, schools, and businesses,” said Stuckey. “Annual vaccinations are recommended by the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control to decrease the possibility of contracting Influenza types A, B, or C.” Stuckey also said when debating the flu vaccination, it is important to remember that we live in a global society. “A person in the cafeteria may have just arrived from an international academic exchange experience, sporting events such as the Olympics, or a vacation. The person sitting next to you in class may be unintentionally spreading the Influenza virus when sharing the amazing adventures of their experience,” said Stuckey. Since we live in a global society, Stuckey says getting vaccinated helps “prevent illness and even death.” One of the main reasons students shared about not getting the flu shot was the cost. “I have never gotten the flu shot because of the cost, my insurance doesn’t cover it.” Freshman Enrique Robles said. Stuckey said that the cost or lack of health insurance are no longer reasons to not get all recommended immunizations. “Under the Affordable Health Care Act and OLLU policy all students, faculty, and staff should have health insurance that covers the cost of vaccines,” said Stuckey. There is also the issue of whether immunizations should be required. “I am strongly in favor of it, but I do not see it as it should be a requirement for all to take the flu shot.” Robles said. While the flu vaccination is not required, some people feel pressured into getting the flu shot especially when if they do not get sick. “I don’t get sick as often as most people. I feel that I get sick once a year really bad but other than that I’m okay,” Junior Denise Coronel said. While this may be true for some people, Stuckey said the flu vaccine helps protect the ones we love including, “the elderly, the frail, and those in altered health conditions who, for medical reasons, can not have the vaccine.” No matter your stance on this controversial debate, there are a few simple steps everyone can take to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. “Washing your hands and other inanimate objects like your phone, computer keyboards, and desk/work area can decrease the spread of the virus. Also covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing. But the most important thing is to get an annual vaccine,” said Stuckey.
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