Health Center

FAQS

Flu Vaccine 2014

When and where can I get a flu vaccine?
A. PLU's stock of flu vaccine has not yet arrived. We will send out announcements when the vaccine is available. We anticipate that the vaccine will be avialable in mid-September.
How much will the vaccine cost?
A. PLU provides the flu vaccine at no charge to all students.
Will the flu vaccine make me sick?
A.

PLU uses a dead flu vaccine. It contains no active virus, and it is not biologically plausible for you to get the flu from the vaccine.

In blinded studies in which some people received a flu vaccine and others randomly received saline (salt water), there were no differences in complaints of fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, or body aches.

As with every vaccine, there is always a small risk of serious side effects. These are extraordinarily rare, and the benefits of flu vaccines far outweigh the risks.

Every year I get the flu vaccine, I get sick. OR The one year I had a flu vaccine, I got sick.
A.

Sorry you became ill, but the flu vaccine wasn’t the culprit. First, the vaccine itself cannot give you the flu.
Second, there are several possible explanations for why you got sick:

  1. You may have become sick with an illness that felt like the flu. It may have been a cold or other viral syndrome that felt like the flu but was not.
  2. You may have had a type of flu that the vaccine did not adequately cover. Every year, four likely strains of flu are included in the vaccine. Sometimes, if you’re really unlucky, you get a strain of the flu that isn’t included. But the flu vaccine has some cross-reactivity, so it protects you from four principal strains of flu and then more limited protection against others.
  3. You can still get a mild course of the flu if you’ve been vaccinated, but it’s much, much less severe than if you hadn’t been vaccinated.
I’m healthy. Why would I need a flu vaccine?
A.

We’re glad you’re healthy… stay that way! Flu vaccine is one of the ways in which you can prevent yourself from becoming ill. Furthermore, flu is contagious. If you get immunized yourself, you won’t pass the virus on to others.

Isn’t flu just like a cold?
A.

No. Although some people have mild courses of the disease, flu can be serious—even life-threatening. Some of the most famous flu outbreaks (like H1N1) were especially dangerous to healthy young adults. Otherwise healthy young adults developed serious pneumonias and some even died from H1N1 and epidemics like it.

Why doesn’t PLU use the nasal spray vaccine?
A.

The nasal spray version of the vaccine is live. In other words, it contains active flu virus. This can be dangerous for people with certain illnesses, and we prefer not to take any risks.

I had a flu vaccine last year, why do I need another one?
A.

Flu changes every year. Different strains of the virus emerge, so you need to be protected against the strains most likely to hit during the coming year.

I thought I was supposed to wait until later in the year to be vaccinated.
A.

No, you don’t have to wait. Studies have demonstrated that immunity is long-lasting, and it is best to be vaccinated as soon as you are able to do so.

Does PLU require me to get a flu vaccine?
A.

Nursing students are required to undergo the vaccine. Otherwise, PLU does not require you to be immunized.

Does PLU make money from giving out flu vaccines?
A.

No. Our interest is in your health and the health of the PLU community.

I hate shots. I’m afraid of needles. I don’t get shots.
A. All of us at the PLU Health Center recognize that injections can be unnerving. The flu vaccine is in a small dose in a small syringe. It may hurt for a moment, and the injection site can sometimes become sore later, but significant pain is unusual. If you would rather lie down when you receive the vaccine, just ask. We’re happy to keep you as comfortable as possible.

Does the flu vaccine contain preservatives that could hurt me?
A.

Although there have been media stories and concerns about Thimerosol, a preservative used in vaccines, these reports do not hold scientific merit. Thimerosol contains ethylmercury, which prevents bacteria and fungi from contaminating vaccines. Many have confused ethylmercury with methylmercury, which can be toxic and accumulate in the body. Ethylmercury (in the vaccine) does not stay in the body. Research in small children has not shown any relationship between Thimerosol and neurological diseases.

What about that cheerleader who got sick?
A.

In 2009, Desiree Jennings was on the “farm team” for NFL cheerleaders. She received a flu vaccine, and claimed that it resulted in widespread neurological symptoms. These included seizures and loss of muscle tone.

Her symptoms were bizarre: Jennings claimed that she could walk sideways or backwards but not forwards. She also developed a British accent. None of these symptoms have any known biological, medical, or scientific connection with flu vaccines. She made a full recovery.

We encourage you to learn more about Desiree Jennings case by watching The Vaccine War: www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/
frontline/vaccines/
, or by reading Paul Offit’s 2013 book, Do You Believe in Magic?

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