Clinics stock up on vaccines

By Megan McNamara

Every year, over 30,000 people die from the flu, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site. However, some refuse to get a preventive flu shot regardless of the risks.

“I’m not getting the flu shot,” said Rebecca Mosher, senior in LAS. “I get sick every year, and I don’t know that it’s as effective as it should be.”

Dr. Kathleen Buetow, clinical professor of Pediatrics at the University, acknowledges the vaccine’s shortcomings.

“It’s not 100 percent effective, but it is highly effective against influenza,” Buetow said. “It is either preventive or it modifies the symptoms in people so that they aren’t as severe.”

One of the things many people aren’t aware of is that influenza is not the 24-hour stomach flu.

Instead, influenza may present itself through symptoms such as high fever, aches and pains, general congestion, chest aches, and severe cough, Buetow said.

“Upper respiratory flu can even turn into pneumonia or bronchitis if you don’t take care of it,” said Bev Knapp, registered nurse in Carle Clinic Association’s flu vaccine program.

This year, Carle Clinic Association put an order in for 55,000 doses of flu vaccine, said Jennifer Hendricks, public relations director for Carle Clinic Association. In years past, the U.S. has run into a shortage of flu vaccine, but this season it is readily available.

“There were more manufacturers that produced it this year,” Knapp said. “Everyone just realized that there needed to be more made because of the shortage in the past.”

Knapp said the vaccine protects against three strains of flu: A-New Caledonia, A-Wisconsin, and B-Malaysia.

This year, there is a new recommendation for those who should receive a flu shot. The CDC advises that children from six to 59 months, adults over 65 years old, anyone with any kind of illness, and pregnant women (if their pregnancy falls during flu season) receive a vaccination.

“It’s also important for health care workers,” Knapp said. “They really need to be vaccinated in order to not spread the flu to patients. Also, families should be immunized, because it can just spread so quickly from a kid to mom and dad.”

Kids receive smaller doses of the flu vaccine than adults, but some mothers worry about immunizing them due to the mercury in the shot.

Buetow, though, said “no data shows that the amount of mercury in any of the vaccines is harmful.”

Many worry, but it probably isn’t justified. While you shouldn’t overexpose yourself to mercury, the amount in the vaccine is negligible.”

According to the CDC Web site, October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, but getting vaccinated in December or even later can still be beneficial since most influenza activity occurs in January or later in most years.

“I will be getting the flu shot,” said Jay Estrada, sophomore in AHS. “I’ve gotten it every year, and I haven’t got the flu in awhile. I’d say that’s enough to keep me coming back for it.”