Health Services offers solution for flu season

Health Services will again offer students vaccinations as a method of defense for the flu season.

The worst of the flu season could begin as early as next month, Richard Kark of Health Services said.

“It does vary but (the season) can start as early as November or as late as January,” he said. “It typically peaks in February or March.”

Some students said they are concerned about contracting the flu and expressed interest in getting vaccinated.

“I’ll probably get (the vaccination). I don’t want to get sick and miss a lot of classes,” senior Julie Leicht said. “I’ve got a really busy schedule.”

Others said that a fear of needles would prevent them from getting the vaccine, which is administered through a shot to the upper arm.

“I have a real thing with needles. I avoid them at all costs,” senior Christina Thrun said. “It took me forever just to get my required shots. Voluntary shot? Not gonna happen.”

At least one student had concerns about other health problems conflicting with the vaccine.

“I might get the vaccine,” senior Matt Harter said. “But I also have asthma and I’ve heard that it and the vaccine don’t mix well. So I’m going to check that first.”

Kark said that there are no ill reactions between asthma and the flu vaccine. In fact, he recommended that students with asthma get the vaccine.

“People who have influenza are at a higher risk for pneumonia,” he said. “And that’s obviously much worse for (asthma sufferers).”

Some students said they simply will not get the vaccine, because they believe they won’t get the flu.

“I’m just not concerned about it,” senior Ryan Nelson said. “I haven’t had the flu since high school.”

Freshman Dan Statz felt the same.

“I haven’t gotten the flu for years and I just don’t feel the need to (get vaccinated),” Statz said.

The influenza vaccine is a small portion of dead virus grown in a laboratory, Kark said.

Because it is dead before the injection, there is no chance of acquiring the symptoms of influenza from the vaccination, he said. However, students who are allergic to eggs should not to receive the vaccination.

“The vaccine is grown on an egg medium so sometimes bits of eggs get in,” he said.

After several months the antibodies produced by the body that combat the virus disappear from the bloodstream and students are not protected from the current strains of the flu, Kark said.

The flu is caused by a virus that infects the respiratory track. It can cause severe and sudden fever, headache, body aches and a nasty cough, he said. While these symptoms are also associated with a bad cold, they are much more sudden and severe with influenza.

“(Influenza) is really a knock you into bed kind of thing,” Kark said.

There is possible confusion involving the symptoms of the flu, he said. Vomiting and diarrhea, symptoms often credited to “the flu,” are not actually symptoms of influenza.

“Influenza and the stomach flu are not the same thing,” Kark said. “Stomach flu is not even a true medical term.”

The flu vaccines offered by Health Services will be available Friday, Tuesday and Oct. 31.

The vaccinations are $10 a student and are administered in the Badger Room of Davies Center.