by Elizabeth Sponaugle

It’s that time of the year. Flu season is here and everywhere there are gentle reminders to go get our flu shots. This year Stuart hosted a flu shot clinic. Doctor Joseph Bresee from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get the annual flu vaccine”. However, there is debate on whether or not the flu shot actually works.

According to the CDC, “[The flu vaccine’s] ability to prevent flu illness can range widely from season to season. The vaccine’s effectiveness also can vary depending on who is being vaccinated … [and] the similarity or ‘match’ between the flu viruses the flu vaccine is designed to protect against and the flu viruses spreading in the community.” However, a study conducted by the CDC shows that flu vaccination was associated with a 71 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults over 2011-2012. Other studies done by the CDC show the vaccine can reduce the risk of the flu by about 50-60 percent among all ages when the most common flu viruses are like the viruses the flu vaccine was designed to protect against.

Not all experts think the flu shot is necessary. Some point out that the influenza virus is not the cause of most flu-like illness, others argue that the flu shot does not work well for certain people because their immune systems are too weak to respond to the shot. Some critics point out that some studies show the flu vaccine just does not work at all. There is also a safety aspect, since many flu vaccinations contain toxins that are dangerous to children and can make people very ill.

This year Stuart hosted a flu shot clinic November 2nd. It was run by Inova HealthSource. This gave the Stuart community an opportunity to receive their flu shots and stay healthy throughout the flu season. The flu shots were free for FCPS employees and twenty-three dollars for every non-FCPS employee. According to Inova HealthSource, “flu-related complications can lead to a loss in productivity at work and higher medical expenses.” This is why FCPS hosted the clinic. Assistant Director of Student Activities Sharon Ponton helped organize the clinic. When asked what she thinks the benefits of Stuart holding this clinic Ponton said, “On a smaller scale the in-house flu shots benefit our employees because it is likely more convenient than making an appointment or finding time to go to a health care center. On the larger scale it helps the community because when more people are vaccinated the spread of the flu is decreased.”

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