Shot or snot

Birkham Health Center competes in flu vaccination challenge

You grab the door handle to leave your residence hall on the way to that pesky 8 a.m. lecture, something you dread on a daily basis. But don’t worry, you won’t have to go later this week because you just unwittingly contracted the most infamous of seasonal bugs: influenza.

There are a number of ways to protect yourself against the flu but what has been proven to be the most effective is a simple vaccination. Birkham Health Center Clinical Coordinator Cande Price tries her best to stress to students the potential severity of this disease and the importance of prevention early on.

“Influenza is not something to sneeze at,” said Price. “It can even cause death in its worst scenario. It’s very important not only for the individual to be protected, but also when you’re protected and I’m protected and somebody walks in that doesn’t want the vaccine they are protected by the herd and the community.”

Birkham Health Center is working hard to spread awareness of this fact among the Ferris student body by taking part in a flu vaccination challenge with other Michigan colleges and universities put on by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“Basically the state health department and division of immunizations want young adults to be cognizant of their health and one of those things is immunizations,” said Price.

There are 16 schools participating in the challenge and they are divided into three categories by student body population. Ferris is considered a mid-sized school for these purposes, falling between 10001 and 25000 in population. Other schools in the mid-sized category are Wayne State and Grand Valley State. Ferris is still relatively small despite its classification as a mid-sized school and as a result is currently bringing up the rear in the challenge.

Wayne State has administered 900 doses of the influenza vaccine thus far in the competition while Ferris is at 110, only ordering 800 units for the entire season.

Students, particularly those going into health and human services, have noticed the lack of concern projected by younger people about vaccinations.

“I recently watched a documentary about how under-vaccinated our generation really is,” said Ferris molecular diagnostic sophomore Olivia Licari. “This shows with the large amounts of previous non-existent diseases like the measles and whooping cough coming back.”

According to Price, you don’t even have to go to Birkham for your vaccine in order to help increase Ferris’ ranking.  “Even if you don’t get your vaccine here from us, from the Health Center,” said Price. “If you got it at Walgreens you can still say that you are a Ferris student.

As for the people that elect not to be vaccinated, Price has heard any number of reasons as to why they think that not being immunized is the safer option.

“People have told me such things like ‘I have gotten the flu from that flu shot’ and as much as you tell them that’s not possible they are adamant,” said Price. “There’s a two week period it takes to start fully protecting yourself. Maybe in that two week period you were exposed.”

Another common misconception is that reactions to the vaccine itself can appear as flu-like symptoms. Some of these minor problems include hoarseness, cough, fever, headache and fatigue. Price said that these are normal and usually dissipate within 24-48 hours.

The importance of these vaccines isn’t lost on everyone though. “I think that getting your flu shot is very important,” said Licari. “It helps keep you and others who are more vulnerable safe.”

For further information about immunizations or how to schedule appointments for them, call Birkham Health Center at (231) 591-2614.