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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Sharing isn’t always caring: Get vaccinated for H1N1

Published: November 13, 2009
Section: Editorials

The Brandeis Health Center will shortly receive its first shipment of H1N1 vaccines to be distributed to the student body. While only high-risk students will be able to receive the first dose of inoculations, Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer says he hopes to have all wanting students vaccinated before December break.

When the H1N1 vaccination does become available to all students, The Hoot strongly encourages students to take advantage of the supply and get vaccinated.

While it may seem like a no-brainer to protect yourself against a virus that the Center for Disease Control categorizes as “widespread” in 48 out of 50 states (Hawaii and Mississippi being the exceptions), when it comes to the seasonal flu, the student body has a shabby track record of getting vaccinated.

Out of 3,200 undergraduates, only 600 students were vaccinated for the seasonal flu at the Health Center this year.

A 19 percent vaccination rate isn’t exactly something to be proud of, and though we acknowledge that many students avoid vaccination because they either do not have the time or are not willing to make the time to get protected from what they see as a risk more microscopic that the virus itself, students should make the time to get vaccinated for H1N1.

According to the Center for Disease Control, H1N1 is more dangerous than the seasonal flu because it has not been seen since the 1950’s.

This means the probability that students already have built up anti-bodies to the disease is slim to none, unlike the seasonal flu to which they are exposed every year. So while students might get the seasonal flu and shrug it off, the chances of feeling the symptoms of H1N1 if infected are far greater.

The university’s policy on H1N1 requires students infected with “flu-like symptoms,” to miss a week of classes–an especially tough predicament when finals are fast approaching.

The opportunity cost of the few dollars and minutes it will take to get vaccinated surely outweighs being sick and confined to bed for a week, not to mention that getting vaccinated stunts the spread of the virus to one’s peers.

Students don’t have to break out the medical masks and disinfect their hands before and after touching shared surfaces, nor should they stampede to the Health Center the first day of vaccinations; but, sharing isn’t always caring–be responsible, and get vaccinated.