By: Lucy Morrissey

Despite the effort and encouragement of health care students and workers, some students will be foregoing the flu shot and missing out on its potential benefits this flu season.

There was greater promotion for the shot a couple of years ago during the H1N1 scare, said Sandra McCormick, health services manager, adding people might overlook it this year. Algonquin’s nursing students, in the Bachelor of Science program, set up promotional booths on Oct. 30, to raise awareness of the flu shot.

With the help of their program co-ordinator and health services, these nursing students will also provide the shot at clinics on campus throughout November. Regardless, Algonquin students might not roll up their sleeves for it.

“I’m not getting one because I hate needles,” said Steph Rochefort, a second-year public relations student. “I have had the flu shot years ago, [in my] early teens maybe, when my parents would take our family.”

Rochefort isn’t the only one who can’t bear the prick of a needle. It’s not uncommon for people to decide against having the shot for this reason, said Devon Hampsey, a fourth-year nursing student organizing the clinics as part of her community health class project.

According to Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, the most widespread side effect of the flu shot is a needle-induced sore or swelling arm.

Mistaken beliefs might also lead people to decide against the shot.

“The vaccine has a ‘dead’ or inactivated virus, it is impossible to contract the flu from it,” said Theresa Barberpin, also a nursing student organizing the clinics, referring to one misconception.

Regardless of longstanding feelings toward or reasons against it, students should be informed on the purpose of and pros in getting the shot.

“Even if getting the flu is just a nuisance for someone, another person could find it quite damaging to their health,” said Barberpin.

Hampsey said she would get the shot even if it wasn’t required as a nursing student, adding that it helps prevent spreading the virus to those people hit hardest, including elders, children and those who are ill prior to contracting it.

Students tend to spend more time indoors and in close quarters with each other in November until January, said McCormick. Consequently, the likelihood of passing along the flu to one another increases, even by way of handling paper money, she said.

A student’s ability to concentrate diminishes when flu-struck and less time is spent in class, McCormick said. Not only are academics likely to suffer but their social lives are too, she added.

“I do worry about getting sick because I’m too busy to be sick in bed for a week,” said Rochefort, even though she doesn’t get the shot. However, that’s not to say she isn’t taking precautions to fend off the flu: she gets sufficient sleep and exercise, she said, and keeps her hands clean and off her face.

Students and staff can find the flu shot clinics on Nov. 14, 15, 20 and 21 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the ACCE building lobby and in the foyer of the Student Commons.