Emily Henderson Feature Feb 11 2019 News Uncategorized

Outbreak season: fighting the flu


With flu season among us, many people dress warmer, wash their hands more frequently and may even make an appointment to receive a flu shot. Faculty members and students alike are not immune to these illnesses, and thus must be prepared to fight them. “

Vaccines have been incredibly important for reducing or eliminating various infectious diseases,” said Professor of Genetics and Immunology, Eric Calhoun.

Outbreaks of illnesses such as the flu are very common, happening almost every year. This month, schools in multiple states were forced to shut down due to lack of student and teacher presence. More than 20 states have reported high activity in flu-like illnesses.

Along with school cancellations, some hospitals are also asking individuals to limit their visitations with loved ones.

It seems as if there’s an influenza outbreak each year, and a different strain each time. Doctors and immunologists attempt to offer vaccinations for the particular strain going around, and it is up to everyone as to whether or not they feel as though they need the immunization.

“I think vaccinations are a wonderful invention because the mortality rates of many deadly diseases have plummeted,” said Courtney Smith (‘21). “I get my yearly flu shot, and any time there is a disease outbreak, such as hepatitis A, I get vaccinated for that as well.”

Alma College has its own immunization requirements, and proof must be shown before students may begin attending classes. There are some vaccinations, such as the one for meningitis, that are required among all students, whether they be in grade school or at the collegiate level. While the college follows these requirements, there are some vaccinations that students have a choice of whether or not they will receive it, such as the vaccine for influenza.

“That’s the one that I don’t get regularly,” said Katie Bailey (‘22) in regards to the flu vaccination. “[How often I get sick] depends. It depends on how stressed I am and how well I’m taking care of myself. I’ve never gotten seriously sick.”

Some may not want to be vaccinated due to the worry that they will get sick, but some students feel otherwise. “I know that [vaccines] work, it’s that simple,” said Alex Baird (‘19). “It’s just annoying that people actively ignore evidence that we have.”

“I feel like everyone needs [vaccines],” said Bailey. Making sure to remain healthy is extremely important, especially to the busy college student. Some students encourage getting your vaccinations as a way of doing this.

“Vaccinations ‘trick’ your immune system into thinking that you’ve got whatever sickness you’re trying to be immunized for, thus allowing your immune cells to create a memory of that illness so that they can better fight it off next time,” said Calhoun.

The Wilcox Medical Center here at Alma College offers immunizations such as typhoid, hepatitis A and B, as well as the influenza shot.

Many students and faculty members feel as though it is important that students are making smart decisions when it comes to cleanliness. As the flu season rages on, it’s important to remember to practice healthy actions when doing daily tasks.

“Wash your hands before you eat, after you go to the bathroom, before touching your face. Also, cough into your elbow as opposed to on your hands to avoid getting others sick,” said Smith.

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