The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Shot still avoided as flu deaths rise

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Illustration Erica Watts/The Collegian

By Kathryn Kelman/editor-in-chief

Despite Texas ranking in the top 10 among states for high flu activity in the country and Tarrant County reporting 21 flu-related deaths, some TCC students still resist calls to get a flu shot, choosing to go without one this season.

Instead, some students say they are relying on keeping clean and healthy eating in hopes that it will be enough.

TR student Daniel Hernandez is one of those students who skipped a flu shot this year despite worrying about contracting the virus.

“I am always concerned about getting it, so I’m very cautious, always washing my hands, staying away from people who have symptoms, but I don’t think the flu shot will help,” he said.

Hernandez said he questions the effectiveness of the flu shot because the virus mutates so he doesn’t think it’s effective.

“I am a bit skeptical about the flu shot being a solution,” he said. “It could possibly be part of the cause in my perspective because people who have gotten the flu shot may feel like they’re more immune to it, which may expose them more and make them less cautious.”

NW student Humna Raza also didn’t get a flu shot this season. To keep from getting the flu, she’s focusing on eating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables to help her immune system stay strong.

Tarrant County Public Health chief epidemiologist Russell Jones said getting the flu shot is important despite reports that it has only been about 34 percent effective over the last 10 years.

The two main reasons to get the flu shot, he said, are because it reduces the chance of contracting the virus and also reduces the chance of serious complications that could come from the virus.

“For an individual, it doesn’t mean you won’t get the flu,” Jones said. “We believe when you get the flu vaccine, even though you may still get the flu, you’re less likely to have a serious complication.”

Some people, like TR student Collin Haefner, said they don’t get the flu shot because they don’t know enough about it.

“It’s mostly because I’m ignorant, but I also only come to class once a week so I’m not around too many people I feel,” Haefner said.

Unlike Haefner, SE student Omonike Oluseye gets the shot because she has young children.

“I preferred to take it [the shot] than fighting it when it is too late,” she said.

TR student Hayden Nicholson, a nursing major, said it’s a requirement of the program to get the shot. But even if it wasn’t, he said he still would get it like he does every year.

“I get the flu shot to stay healthy,” Nicholson said. “I’m always worried about others, but as long as I protect myself and stay clean, then I’ll hopefully be OK.”

As a precaution this flu season, TCC’s facilities department has increased the number of restroom cleanings and sanitizing of public areas like classrooms and the nursing areas, according to an email sent out by the college’s public relations and marketing department.

“Restrooms are normally cleaned four times a day and sanitized during the night shift,” according to the email. “Due to the flu outbreak, we are sanitizing the restrooms six times daily and again overnight using a sanitizer that kills 98 percent of germs.”

Nursing staff members around the district will also contact facilities should they come in contact or hear about individuals with flu symptoms, so the department can immediately sanitize the area, the email said.

The flu season typically runs from late October or early November to March with the peak falling from December to late February, Jones said.

“I feel very confident that we’ll be very high with the flu through February,” he said.

Although college-aged students typically have strong immune systems, they are still at a higher risk for infection, Jones said.

“People who are college-aged have some of the highest number of contacts per person than in any other age group,” he said. “The more you contact others, the more likely you’ll be in contact with someone who has the flu.”

College-aged people tend to share drinks and food when they go out. Jones recommended not doing so, at least until peak flu season has ended. He also recommended keeping hand sanitizer for coming in contact with handrails and door handles and avoiding touching the face.

“The big one is when we get stuff on our hands, and we take our hands to our face, and that’s an opportunity for infection,” Jones said.

Jones also recommended getting a healthy amount of sleep and eating healthy to keep one’s immune system strong to help prevent getting sick.

For people who are sick, Jones recommended they stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever resolves without medication and to cough and sneeze into a tissue or their elbow.

“One of the problems with flu is people will be infectious one to two days before they actually feel ill,” he said.

A person may feel and look OK but actually be spreading the virus and getting other people sick, Jones said.

“That’s the challenge with the flu and another reason to be washing your hands,” he said.

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