Dec 022004
 
Authors: Lindsay Reiter

Now healthy college students, that are not able to get their hands on the flu vaccine due to this year's shortage, have alternative options to avoid the flu.

A new vaccine, called FluMist, has become more popular this season and is available on campus at Hartshorn Health Service.

FluMist is a nasal spray that contains live, weakened influenza virus. It is intended for healthy people, ages 5 to 49.

A flu shot at Hartshorn costs students $12 and the FluMist costs $30.

"FluMist is in the forefront this year because of the flu shot shortage. We were only allowed to give shots to the older population and very young children," said Lisa Duggan, immunization coordinator at Hartshorn Health Service. "FluMist is a good option because it can only be given to healthy people."

Hartshorn received 70 FluMist vaccines and still has 30 left. They also received 500 flu shots that were given to high-risk students first and then to staff members until they ran out.

"In a normal year we encourage everyone to get the flu shot, but this year there are half as many flu shots in the U.S. because of the contamination," Duggan said.

This season she is encouraging students to get the FluMist instead.

This is the first new flu vaccine in over 50 years and it is different from the shot in that it is not an injection and is available early in the season.

Duggan, who used the nasal spray, described her experience with it.

"It is very nice. It's not so much a spray, just a mist. A lot of people like it because it's not a shot," Duggan said.

Minor side affects of FluMist, can include a stuffy nose, because the nose absorbs the mist, a fever and a headache.

"I probably won't get the FluMist. I'd rather not take the chance of getting sick because it has a live virus in it. If you get sick you just deal with it," said Nick Hausman, a sophomore psychology major.

When people like Hausman hear that the vaccine contains a live virus, they are often hesitant to get the vaccine, but Duggan assures the vaccine is safe.

"FluMist is a live flu vaccine, but it doesn't give you the flu because it is thinned down. It is just enough exposure that you build-up antibodies and immunity," Duggan said.

This is only the second year FluMist has been available to the public.

Lamar Watson, a junior biological sciences major, has not considered getting FluMist, even though fewer people received flu shots this year.

"I wouldn't get FluMist, but I think it's a good idea. I don't normally get a flu vaccine because I'm young and I have a strong immune system," Watson said.

Duggan stressed the importance of getting vaccinated every year.

"The immunization only lasts for one season," Duggan said. "Every season the virus changes a little bit so you have to get revaccinated."

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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