by Andrea Corona
Purchase can be considered relatively small campus, with only 4,102 students and roughly 2,700 residents, but in the context of spreading disease, we certainly become a tight knit community.
When it comes to infectious diseases that are airborne or easily contagious, there is only so much wiping and cleaning one can do, especially if you’re in a converted triple.
One way to not get sick? Get a flu shot.
The Student Health Services Center treats a handful of flu or flu like illnesses every week, and according to Administrative Director, Adrienne Belluscio RN, there has been an increase in cases. Statewide, there was a 32% increase in hospitalizations of flu illnesses last week. Belluscio explains that although these numbers are probably reflecting patients who are immunocompromised or had previous conditions, a flu shot can never hurt.
“People say that they got the shot and got sick anyway so it’s not worth getting, but even if you get the disease the vaccine reduces the severity of the illness,” says Belluscio.
Students in particular, could help each other by getting vaccines. This creates ‘herd immunity’ which creates a form of indirect protection from infectious disease when a large percentage of a population becomes immune. “Flu travels fast in the dormitories,” says Belluscio. There has been an increase in cases over the years, but not an increase in flu shots administered. Health Services only administer between 100-150 dosages each year.
Although it is advised to get the shot as soon as possible into the season, which started in August, it is still effective as long as the incidences haven’t peaked, which they haven’t.
This means that getting the vaccination over winter break can give your body the 4-6 weeks it needs to build an immune response, so that by the time spring semester starts, you can return protected from the flu. Most local pharmacies will provide the services at little or no cost depending on your insurance.