Op-ed: Get your flu shot already

You’re a university student, you love free stuff. So why haven’t you gotten your free flu shot already?

Say what you want about rising tuition, the price of student housing or bookstore prices, but at least UBC will pay for your free flu shot. And you should really take advantage of it.

Don’t say you don’t have enough time for it either. The shot itself takes 30 second and, adding in the minute or two it takes to sign in plus the five minutes you have to wait after getting the vaccine, the whole process won't take more than 10 minutes. You can do it between classes, at the checkout at Shoppers or while you wait for the bus.

The vaccine is safe and effective — you should really get it. Worst case scenario: your arm is red and swollen for a day. Absolute worst case scenario: you are allergic to the vaccine and you get a second free shot to stop the allergic reaction.

If you don’t get the vaccine, you are more likely to become infected by the flu and spend up to two weeks with a fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny noise, ache muscles, headaches and fatigue. About five to 20 per cent of the adult population will get the flu, but flu vaccines can be up to 60 per cent effective and cut your chances of getting sick drastically. 

Ten minutes and a little poke, and you are likely to save yourself a week of bed-ridden, fever-induced misery.

Don’t think that just because you are a healthy young adult that you won't get the flu. First of all, the vaccine isn’t just about you. The vaccine isn't as effective for infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, and the flu is incredibly dangerous to them. Getting a flu vaccine isn’t about just keeping yourself healthy, it’s about keeping everyone healthy. Secondly, even as a young, healthy person, you are susceptible to the flu. Peak flu season and exams fall at the same time — stress has been shown to make you more susceptible to infection.

The vaccines are paid for by the university, organized by UBC Risk Management and administered by fourth-year nursing, medical and pharmaceutical science students. A registered nurse oversees each vaccination site. 

In 2013, UBC administered 3,654 vaccines to students, faculty and staff. Last year, they administered 4,537. This year, let's make it 65,659.

A previous version of this piece stated that infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems could not receive the vaccine. They can, but it is significantly less effective. The Ubyssey regrets this error.