The leaves are changing and falling, the weather is slowly
getting colder and local medical providers are preparing for the
annual invasion of the flu virus.
Flu vaccinations will be available beginning Monday at both
Hartshorn Health Service and the Larimer County Department of
Health and Environment.
Flu season typically begins in November or December, and the
vaccine takes about two weeks to provide immunity, which is why
vaccinations are available in October, said Lisa Duggan,
immunization coordinator and infection control nurse at
An average of 36,000 Americans die every year from flu
complications, according to the LCDHE. People must get a new
vaccination every year because the virus can mutate, making a
previous immunization ineffective against the new strain.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that
people at high risk for a flu infection be immunized. These include
all people over 65, children 6 to 23 months old, adults and
children with chronic health conditions and women who will be more
than three months pregnant during flu season.
The vaccination is also recommended for anyone wishing to avoid
“The reason we encourage college students to get a flu shot is
… because of the sheer masses of people they’re exposed to on a
daily basis,” Duggan said.
Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, director of the LCDHE, said many students
choose to get a flu shot due to its convenience.
“A lot of students don’t want to get the flu because they can’t
afford to miss classes and exams,” she said.
LeBailly said the past few flu seasons have been mild in
Colorado. Duggan said Hartshorn immunized approximately 2,000
students last winter, and saw only about 40 cases of the flu.
Duggan and LeBailly are unconcerned about running out of the
vaccine, as has been the case in the past. “It’s been bad the last
few years with availability, but this year should be fine,”
New this flu season is a nasal-spray vaccine, FluMist. It is
recommended only for healthy individuals ages 5 to 49.
FluMist is a live virus vaccine, whereas the traditional shot is
not. Therefore, the spray could potentially give someone a mild
case of the flu and possibly allow him or her to transmit the
disease to someone in the high-risk category. The Department of
Health and Environment will not be offering FluMist, because they
would like to see more of the results and effects of it in a larger
community, LeBailly said.
Hartshorn will provide the spray vaccine if students request it,
however, it is expensive; approximately $55, Duggan said. The
vaccine is ideal for “healthy, young students who really hate shots
and are willing to pay that much,” Duggan said. “If there’s enough
inquiry we’d be happy to get it for people.”
While FluMist could potentially give someone the flu, both
Duggan and LeBailly said that a flu shot cannot transmit the
disease, nor will it weaken someone’s immune system, since the
virus is inactive.
“The flu shot cannot make you sick,” Duggan said. “Everyone has
personal preferences and I certainly respect that. I would never
encourage someone to get a flu shot if they didn’t want one.”
Adam Gabriel, a freshman open option student, is not planning on
getting immunized. “I don’t like to get shots,” he said.
Gabriel has had flu shots in the past, but said he is not
concerned enough about getting sick to get the shot again. “I’m not
going to die from the flu,” he said.
The talk of SARS and West Nile seem to have made people somewhat
more concerned with their health, Duggan said.
“I’m impressed people are more aware of the flu this year and
are more concerned about it,” she said.
Other students simply want to avoid getting sick. Brittany
Schneider, a junior psychology major, plans to get a flu shot
“I’ve gotten a flu shot every year since I was little, and now I
get a lesser case, or no case of it at all,” she said. “I think it
would be good to get one earlier (in the season), because then
you’re immune for the whole season.”