The Vaccess group, in cooperation with the Thompson Health Center, will be offering vaccines against the flu and meningitis from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. today in Baxter Lounge. Students may charge the vaccinations to a credit card or their term bill.
According to Ruth Harrison, director of health services, the $20 flu vaccine is recommended for all students who have not had negative reactions to the shot in the past. The protection lasts for only one year, so it is important that students wanting protection from the virus get their shots annually.
Although the flu rarely causes deaths among college-age people, it can “make you feel sick enough that you’re not able to go to class,” Harrison said.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the flu can cause fevers, headaches, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches.
One minor downside of the flu vaccine is its ability to make people feel sick for a day or two after its injection. “You may feel a little achy after it, but it’s not going to give you the flu,” Harrison said.
The $85 meningitis vaccine is recommended primarily for first-year students. Because freshmen have never lived in dormitories before, they have had no exposure and thus possess no natural resistance to meningitis.
“Meningitis is mostly recommended for first-year students, and that is because often first-year students have not lived in a dorm environment, where it’s close all the time,” Harrison said. “By the time students are in their sophomore, junior, senior year, they have been exposed.”
That does not mean, Harrison said, that not all students would benefit from the vaccine. But because the meningitis vaccine lasts for three to five years, students who have recently had the vaccine do not need to have it again.
Although the College has not had a confirmed case of meningitis in over a decade, Harrison said that the potential harm of contracting the bacterial disease justifies the vaccination: “It varies from feeling like you have a really bad flu, to very serious reactions. . . some people die.”
“Meningitis can be a devastating illness, and we do recommend that students receive the vaccine.”
With or without shots, it’s doubtful that students will be dying from either the flu or from meningitis this year. But Harrison believes that even a small increase in campus health is worth the effort: “We’re hoping that enough students will come through Baxter and get the shots so that the campus will be healthier this year.”