By Brian Boye, Managing Editor
This year’s flu season is shaping up to be one of the worst, and St. John Fisher College is fighting to prevent the virus from spreading across campus.
The Health and Wellness Center held nine flu clinics during the fall 2017 semester and about 700 people at Fisher utilized this opportunity. The center is still offering vaccinations that are sponsored by the School of Pharmacy, the School of Nursing and Wegmans.
Despite the fear of the flu, some still opt out of these services on campus. Freshman Ciana Simmons did not get the flu shot this year.
“One, I’m afraid of needles, and two, I’ve never had it,” said Simmons.
Simmons is an example of several students who may not feel the need to get a flu shot, especially if they are submerged into what they believe is a low risk environment.
“We don’t have any reported cases of the flu that we have experience with, but that doesn’t mean they’re not on campus,” said Rebecca Kieffer, the director of the Health and Wellness Center.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu this year is widespread in 49 states in the United States. Given its tendency to change and its ability to quickly spread, the flu is one of the most prominent viruses each year. According to an article from CNBC about modern medicine, the flu vaccine is predicted to be 30 percent effective, which is lower than previous years where it typically fluctuates between 40 to 60 percent.
Despite this percentage, Fisher Biology professor Jonelle Mattiacio still recommends getting the vaccine.
“If you actually never get naturally infected, getting a little bit of the components of the virus through the vaccine every year helps mount your immune system so it can respond better if you do get infected,” Mattiacio said. “So that’s why in years where the effectiveness of the vaccine isn’t high, it’s still important to get the vaccine because you’re just giving your immune system a little boost and it’s protecting you for the potential future.”
Since complications with the flu are commonly seen in infants and the elderly, the vaccine benefits more than just the individual receiving it. However, Fisher students are not required to get the flu vaccine.
“If there was a flu outbreak, we have a protocol to address this as a college Health and Wellness Center, and part of this would likely involve sending students diagnosed with the flu home to recover,” said Kieffer.
The flu can still have major impacts on young adults even though the disease is not as severe among that age group.
“You’re still going to be out of commission for two to three to five days, missing class, not practicing, not being able to participate in clubs,” Kieffer said. “Missing out on doing the things that you all need to do as students to be successful.”
Since college campuses are communal living spaces, diseases like the flu can spread rapidly. Mattiacio and Kieffer both recommended hand washing, drinking fluids, and to not share beverages to prevent the spread.
Story update on Jan. 31
On Jan. 26, an email was sent from the Health and Wellness Center which stated that cases of the flu have appeared on campus.
Kieffer did not list any numbers but noted that some students have sought care and have been diagnosed with the flu at the Health and Wellness Center.
“We encourage students with the flu or other contagious illness to consider ‘quarantine’ or returning home to avoid the spreading of the illness to others in the environment,” Kieffer said. “Being able to rest and receive assistance with recovery can also lead to a quicker return to health.”