Flu Shots: Benefits vs. Myths

When I came to college, I really hated getting vaccinations. Why bother getting a shot just to prevent something I wasn’t guaranteed to get sick with? Surely, I thought, the potential side effects of a shot (mostly ones I imagined, rather than anything based in fact) would outweigh whatever benefits I’d gain. That view changed, however, after a few weeks living in the dorms. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by hundreds of people all living in close quarters, and getting sick with some frequency. After I recovered from a particularly nasty cold, which knocked me out of class a few days and stressed me out more in an already difficult first semester, I decided to get a flu shot. Given my earlier suspicions and anxiety, I was a little nervous, but fortunately, the myths I was holding onto about the flu shot’s risks were just that: myths. I’ve now gotten the flu shot three years in a row, and I’ve happily experienced no side effects, except a typical bit of soreness for a few hours around the part of my arm where I got the shot.

The benefits of the flu shot include the obvious — not getting the flu yourself. But another major benefit of getting the flu shot is that you help protect everyone else in our community. By you taking this preventive measure, you won’t get the flu, which also means nobody else will get the flu by being in contact with you; when you multiply this by many in our community getting the vaccine, there won’t be a widespread flu outbreak since so many people will be protected this year due to vaccination.

Since I know what it’s like to be nervous about getting the flu shot, check out these myths about the flu shot to get some more peace of mind. Generally the most frequent side effect is a sore arm, and in some cases light-headedness due to the injection — luckily, you are monitored by Primary Care Health Services professionals for 20 minutes to catch any issue that may come up in the short term after a flu shot — with only a few more serious side effects possible, but very unlikely. For me, a sore arm is well worth preventing a week’s worth of feeling really sick from the flu. While it’s ultimately your choice to make, I urge you to consider getting the flu shot this year, as an investment for your own health and as well as the health of people around you.

If you’d like to be vaccinated, call Primary Care at 212-854-2091 to set up an appointment time. The flu shot is free if you have Aetna Student Health Insurance, or $15 payable by check, debit, or credit if you are covered under another plan (most of which will reimburse you for the flu shot if you make a claim).

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