By Katelyn Melder
The weekend before moving back to KU, I found myself driving a family member into the ER. During our six-hour wait in the stuffy waiting room, we found ourselves surrounded by patients with the flu.
Left and right, people were throwing up, coughing, wheezing, blowing noses, and sweating profusely. Within an hour, the hospital reached maximum capacity. Two hours later, another hospital in the area was sending incoming patients away. Even as I left at 4 a.m., people were trudging into the hospital in their pajamas holding barf buckets.
After talking to a few nurses and a doctor, they made it very clear that they’ve never seen a flu season as bad as this one. Why are people shying away from the vaccine? Is it not even working to prevent illness?
Many people are blaming this outbreak on the very vaccine that’s meant to prevent it. Stories have circulated about the flu vaccine creating serious, and even fatal, complications. The commonly mentioned link between childhood vaccines and autism frequently scare parents into not giving their children vaccines.
It’s no secret that the flu vaccine is also known for giving people allergic reactions. They can range from mild to severe, and people with an egg allergy aren’t even able to take the vaccine.
One of the major reasons middle-aged people are turning their back on vaccines is the fact that President Donald Trump is anti-vaccine. This influences a lot of people’s decisions, especially when they have a major role model and influencer like the president saying that vaccines are terrible for children. It has a lot of people brushing off the positive sides of getting the flu vaccine.
Over time, the percentage of the human population getting vaccines has dropped. Less and less people are willing to take the vaccine or allow their children to be vaccinated.
The whole point of a vaccine is to create an overall, societal immunity of a disease or illness. If young adults and middle-aged adults get the vaccine, then it will be less likely for the flu to reach people who can’t get the vaccine. This includes infants, the elderly, and people who can’t get vaccinations for health or religious reasons.
If half of the population doesn’t get the vaccine, then it’s more likely for an outbreak to spread. For a community to have successful vaccinations, a high percentage of people need to be vaccinated.
If someone gets the flu while vaccinated, they have a much better chance at not being hospitalized. Their illness will also be less severe than those who don’t get the vaccine.
There are many benefits to getting vaccinated, especially for those living on a college campus. The flu has the tendency to spread like wild fire, and the more people who can be vaccinated, the better.
Living on a college campus can make students particularly susceptible to the flu. Kutztown University has space for up to 4,400 students to live on campus, sometimes in close quarters. Students come from all over Pennsylvania and beyond the state lines. Essentially, a campus is a Petri dish for every disease possible.
There are many things that can be done to become less susceptible to the flu. Some ways to avoid contracting the flu are to wash your hands, stay away from people who are sick, and keep practicing healthy habits like wiping down your dorm room with Clorox wipes regularly. Simple things like this can make all the difference.
The most obvious precaution would be to get the vaccination. Doctors consistently recommend their patients get it every year.
If you do get sick or come down with the flu, stay hydrated and make a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible to get an antiviral.