Flu fear frenzy doesn’t hit MRU
Amidst province-wide vaccine shortages, Wellness Services at MRU gave out fewer flu shots this year than in previous years
The flu vaccine has been a hot topic as of late, with the province of Alberta experiencing a shortage of vaccines due to an outbreak of the H1N1 virus.
Conversely, Wellness Services at Mount Royal University experienced a surplus of vaccines. This year, approximately 800 people received flu shots out of the 1100 vaccines they had to hand out.
Wellness Services administrator, Francesca Simon, attributes the Alberta-wide shortages mostly to being understaffed at the clinic and too long wait times. The flu vaccine, which has H1N1 antibodies, is not a mandatory shot for most people. However, Alberta Health Services recommends the vaccine for all Albertans who are six months of age and older.
Shannon Evans, senior communications officer with Alberta Health Services stated via email that “this recommendation is made because all Albertans are at risk for influenza, and, without annual influenza immunization, administered each season, every Albertan remains at risk.”
A poll of 50 university students confirmed that only 20 per cent popped into a clinic or pharmacy to receive their vaccination. The majority of those 20 per cent were female, the bulk of which were nursing students who had to get the vaccine for their work term.
A number of reasons were given by the student body as to why not to get a flu shot, such as a fear of needles.
Another resounding reason was that most students believed that as healthy individuals they did not feel like the vaccine was something that they needed. Emily Harrison, a student at MRU, does not agree with the vaccine, believing that it only protects you from certain strains and it is best for your body to fight off the flu naturally.
Simon contradicted the belief that the young and healthy do not need flu shots.
“The H1N1 virus attacks people in their prime of life. Typically the flu hurts older people and young kids and people who are sick. H1N1 doesn’t discriminate, it actually attacks a lot of healthy young people,” he said.
Every year, MRU’s Wellness Centre puts on an aggressive advertising campaign alerting the campus of their five-day clinic held in November. The posters strewn about the campus have a clear message: Take Care.
Simon elaborates, stating that even if you are a healthy individual, by not getting the flu shot you compromise those around you. Influenza can take a couple of days to incubate and show symptoms, and unknowing carriers can infect others who are vulnerable to it.
Although Mount Royal University did not experience a shortage of vaccines, Simon thinks the media frenzy that helped contribute to the mad rush of people wanting to get immunized holds value; it has made people more aware of the importance of getting a flu shot.
“The province wants everyone to get immunized because then you have a ‘herd immunity’ – it costs a lot of money and it is a lot of hardship for people that get sick and land in hospitals. The more people get vaccinated, the more people are protected.”