Don’t touch that doorknob

strongJamie Bogert and Briana Azar, Beacon Staff and Beacon Correspondent/strong

The hints of a brisk Boston winter are upon us, and while the perpetually stuffy nose is often the first sign of sickness, some find that they are not quick to wait in line at the Center for Health and Wellness for the one thing that may mend their itchy throat and sweaty palms — the flu shot. Whether it’s because of the dust bunnies finding shelter in students’ wallets or the belief that a flu shot does more harm than good, the debate over the influenza vaccine is just as annual as the injection itself.

While there are those who aren’t interested in or even against receiving the shot, there are just as many who see the benefits of the vaccine. One may think they’re invincible when it comes to germs, but the flu can spread in a number of different ways.

The sneeze you couldn’t catch on your sleeve in time while riding the train or the cough that crept up your throat in class and shot across the back of the head of a student sitting in front of you can have more damaging effects than you think.

According to an article from The Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention titled “Inactivated Influenza Vaccine 2011-2012,” thousands of people die from influenza and even more require hospitalizations each year.

For many, getting the flu shot is an easy way to protect  themselves and avoid spreading the illness to others.

Isabel Thottam, a junior visual and media arts major, believes the shot to be a necessity, especially when living in the tight confines of the dorms.

“College students are more likely to get the flu because of the fact that, in the residence halls, we share bathrooms and rooms with one another so we are more exposed to germs,” said Thottam. “If I had been smarter and gotten mine earlier, I would not have gotten as sick as I have recently.”

Though the benefits make getting the shot seem like a simple solution for fighting winter illness, others find ways to avoid the flu and the burning sensation you get as soon as you rip off the Hello Kitty Band-Aid from the tiny mark left on your arm.

Alternative methods to the vaccine can be as simple as following a healthy diet filled with lots of Vitamin C and fruits and vegetables. More specifically, try guava, red and green sweet peppers, kiwis, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, brussel sprouts, and cantaloupes, all of which are chock full of Vitamin C according to The Daily Green, a site that is geared toward people looking to be more environmentally responsible.

Sean Gilroy, a sophomore visual and media arts major, trusts basic nutrients in food and prefers to keep the extra 30 bucks in his back pocket rather than in a swollen puncture on the side of his arm. “In my opinion, we do not need flu shots,” he said. “Making healthy choices can do wonders for people. I haven’t gotten the vaccine in years and I cannot remember the last time I actually got the flu.”

The flu shot does not guarantee you won’t end up on the couch under three blankets with Vicks Vapor Rub globbed all over your chest, but it does lower your chances.

Each year, according to the article “Inactivated Influenza Vaccine 2011-2012,” scientists try to match the viruses in the vaccine to those most likely to cause the flu that year. On average, it takes up to 2 weeks for protection to develop after the shot and it lasts about a year.

Flu shots are being offered at the Health and Wellness Center for $15.00 and at CVS for around $30.00. Fruits and vegetables are around $2.00 at your local grocery store.

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