Boo! It's the Flu!
Photo By: Jeremiah Hassel
Jeremiah Hassel, News Editor
As the colorful tendrils of autumn encompass the Penn State Behrend campus and temperatures begin to drop, immune systems grow weaker and contagions swarm the environment, eagerly awaiting their next human host. More and more, the Behrend community will become susceptible to various bugs and ailments, especially the flu virus.
The senior Behrend nursing students rose to the challenge of conquering this year’s strain of the virus, setting up interactive information tables and raffle baskets at locations in the Reed Student Union Building and the Burke Resource and Economic Development Center this Wednesday and Thursday.
“I think a lot of people don’t understand everything about the flu shots,” said senior nursing student Ashley Sharpe. “There’s a lot of myths out there that we’re trying to disprove… The flu vaccine’s actually very important, especially on a college campus that’s very widely populated.”
Each table came equipped with trivia games, infographics, and a number of nursing students happy to educate passers-by of the benefits of a yearly flu shot.
“Even if you’re not worried about yourself getting the flu, you can be a carrier,” said senior nursing student Kaitlyn Ronge. “[People] can get the flu from you just carrying it. It’s very important to just get your flu shot, so we’re trying to just educate people.”
The nursing student tables come mere weeks after the annual health fair hosted by the Health and Wellness centers on campus. The centers will offer flu shots to students in tandem with the presentations from the nursing students advocating for them.
“We… [are] educating, sorting out any myths, any concerns people have about the flu shot and just really making them aware of the benefits of getting their flu shot,” said Ronge.
Myths pose one of the greatest public health risks with regard to contagions and the acquisition of illnesses. Several individuals refuse to vaccinate their children due to concerns over autism, while others believe the vaccines will cause physical harm to themselves.
Studies show that those who contract the flu are two to five times more likely to experience major symptoms or even death if not vaccinated. Vaccinated adults were subsequently 37 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU if they contracted the flu, said studies from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Despite the health benefits associated with flu shots, the number of individuals receiving shots each year has decreased drastically from 2017-2018, with an average of a six percent drop in each age group. In general, the number of flu shots administered to adults was the lowest it’s been in nearly a decade in the 2017-2018 season, according to the CDC.
The nursing students and the Health and Wellness Centers will continue to educate the Behrend community and advocate for healthy living, especially with regard to flu shots and other things community members are offered right on campus.
“We do health promotion everywhere we go,” said Sharpe. “On a college campus, this is the next generation that’s going to be having kids and going and going and making change and doing stuff, so the more they know, the more they can spread the word too.”