It wasn’t that long ago that the H1N1 virus, commonly known as “swine flu,” reared its ugly head and caused wide-spread panic. Scientists have recently revealed the H1N1 vaccination, sealed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s approval, to combat the disease.
From Nov. 4 to. 6, Eastern’s health department held a clinic in the rec gym where H1N1 vaccinations were given for $5 to students under the age of 24. Ordering 2,500 doses, the Health department hired extra nurses to help out at the clinic and then waited for the storm of students to arrive. However, they only administered 150 shots over the three days–not the reaction they had expected.
Janet Topper, the Director of Student Health Services, said that the H1N1 shot “is as safe as the seasonal flu vaccine.”
Contrary to popular belief, there are no reported extreme side effects to the vaccine, and the only people who should be warned against getting the shot are those allergic to eggs.
“The CDC highly recommends (students) take it,” Topper said. “We support what the CDC recommends.”
Bettie Ann Brigham, Vice President of Student Development, also recommends students get the vaccine, especially now that it has been opened up to family members as well.
“It’s a purely individual choice, but there’s as much risk in getting the shot as there is in getting the disease,” Brigham said.
While there will not be another organized clinic, the Health Center is offering H1N1 vaccines to faculty and staff members, sixty of whom have already come forward and taken it.
The student population, on the other hand, is fairly split over the issue. While some took the shot during the clinic, many are adamant about not taking it.
“There are too many repercussions that can happen in a couple of years,” senior Kristen Pricskett said. “There’s not enough testing for it yet.”
Junior Chelsea Dotson had a similar opinion.
“It’s too new of a vaccine and I don’t think they fully understand the long-time effects it’ll have on people,” Dotson said.
According to Brigham, there was also concern from parents whose children claimed their professor told them not to get it. This, however, has not been substantiated and remains a rumor.
Reasons that students gave for obtaining the shot at the clinic ranged from health concerns to parental influence.
“If I didn’t get it, my mom would have personally come down and injected me herself,” first-year Chelsea Merkel said.
First-year Kara Castle decided to get the shot for monetary reasons.
“When I found out how cheap it was, it made sense to get it,” Castle said. “(The nurses) were appalled that no one showed up.”
The H1N1 virus presents itself as a novel, milder strain of flu, with normal, flu-like symptoms including a high fever, body aches and sore throat. The difference lies in the age group: Swine flu has hit the college-age group the hardest while the seasonal flu continues to influence older and younger people. For those that don’t want to get the shot, the best ways to avoid getting H1N1 is to wash hands, cover coughs and maintain personal space around others. Should you get the flu, start to feel better but then get worse, seek medical help immediately, as it may be possible you have H1N1.