The flu shot as a civic duty

By on November 27, 2012

The influenza virus, commonly known as the flu, is a nasty and highly contagious sickness that affects thousands of people every year. The virus has several strains that developed from mutations.

After skipping the flue shot, man suffers under the wrath of influenza. bighappyfunhouse.com

Every year, just before the beginning of the flu season, flu vaccines are released to the public. The government has approved three different vaccines this flu season along with its yearly recommendation that anyone over the age of six months gets vaccinated.

Some years, the appearance of a different strain of flu causes a general scare.

For example, in 2009, the H1N1, or swine flu, spread across North America. In response, the following year’s flu vaccines included strains of the H1N1 virus. Since then, swine flu has not made major resurgences.

Most people consider a flu vaccine a personal choice. Not receiving a vaccine means taking the risk of getting the flu, which can be deadly. Another viewpoint is that getting the flu vaccine is a benefit to society. Ideally, if everyone received the flu vaccine, the virus would never impact so many people. However, this conclusion is impractical since millions of Americans cannot even afford basic medical care. Why would they pay for a preventative vaccine when there is a chance they will not be infected without the shot? Medical care for these Americans is for worst-case scenarios only.

However, on college campuses, especially in dorms, being vaccinated is a legitimate benefit to society, the definition of society in this case being the college community. In dorms especially, sickness spreads rapidly because the students live in such close proximity. If one person living in a dorm becomes infected, the flu can easily spread to half of the floor. For this reason, students have the obligation to get a flu shot. Not only are they putting themselves at risk of being infected when they shirk this responsibility, but all of their classmates as well.

But how do we go about convincing students that they have an obligation to be vaccinated? The health department of a college should spread the message through flyers, messages, Facebook, and Twitter. In addition, colleges should offer cheap or free flu shots to all students. Though this process may be expensive, it would be worth the cost because colleges would have healthier students and faculty. Regardless of whether colleges provide flu shots, students should attempt to get vaccinated to ensure their health and that of their fellow classmates.

Natasha Mehra
Staff Writer
nmehra16@uab.edu

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