Flu shots are available on campus

Flu season is here and although health practitioners urge people to get vaccinated, many people don’t see the point.
Brian Bestard, a plumbing student at SAIT, said he hasn’t received a flu shot. He said he thinks there isn’t much of a reason to if you’re a generally healthy person.
“I think it’s important if you’re around little kids or the elderly,” Bestard said, adding that even though a healthy body might be able to handle a flu, the very young and the very old may have more serious experiences with the virus.
His opinion isn’t an uncommon one.
Kaelin Sheaves, an administration information management student at SAIT, said while he understands the merits of getting a flu shot for someone at risk of serious harm from the illness, he doesn’t see much reason for a healthy person to get it.
“To be honest, I’ve never got it,” Sheaves said.
He said it was his mother’s view that not getting the flu shot would help the body develop a healthy immune system, and to fight the virus in the future.
Jordan Kehler, a registered nurse with the SAIT Health Services Clinic, said everyone should get their flu shot and said it applies to everyone, not just people who are at greater risk.
“The thing about having a healthy immune system is that you are much more equipped to fight off these viruses without getting the flu shot, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t spread them,” Kehler explained.
“You can spread it if you’re infected before the symptoms even start, and what may knock you out for a week could knock an immunocompromised person out for a lot longer.”
The amount of time flu can affect a person varies drastically.
“I had someone who came in to get their flu shot, because a couple years ago, they had the flu for three months,” Kehler said.
Kehler said immunocompromised people include, young kids and the elderly, as Bestard and Sheaves said, people already facing a different illness or going through chemotherapy also apply.
“Those are the kinds of people that healthy people should be able to protect because they’re able to get the flu vaccine. The fact that healthy people get the flu vaccine means that they’re less likely to transmit to someone who is immunocompromised,” Kehler said.
Kehler also said that although vaccines are great and have played a huge role in stamping out many serious diseases in human populations, there are still people who are hesitant to get a flu shot.
She said in her mind, a lot of people let the inconvenience of going to a health centre, making an appointment and getting the vaccine, outweigh the importance of getting vaccinated.
“I had someone yesterday who has never been vaccinated in their entire life, but he came to school, and really wanted to be up-to-date on his vaccinations,” Kehler said.
“He was scared of needles too[…] you felt really bad, but that was his decision, ‘I want to get vaccinated,’ which is awesome.
“I had another patient who said they regularly get reactions from the vaccine, but the reactions are worth her being immune to it, which I think is amazing.”
When asked why the flu vaccine is an annual occurrence, unlike other vaccines that happen once ever or very infrequently, Kehler said part of the reason is that the flu exists not as one single virus, but as multiple strains.
“The flu shot changes year to year because the strains change year to year. This year, we’re protecting against four different strains,” Kehler said.
The four different strains are the ones that were the largest threats last flu season.
“Your body is smart, but viruses are also very smart.”
The SAIT Health Services Clinic will be providing flu shots until March, and can be reached by phone at 403-284-8666.

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