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Bates Vaccinates

As every seasoned Batesie knows, with winter months follows the inevitable Bates “plague”. Bates College is especially vulnerable to the spread of disease due to its high community engagement and the overall design of a college campus. The influenza disease is a viral infection that spreads easily, attacking the ear, nose, and throat. According to Biology Professor and evolution expert, Donald Dearborn, the flu shot can be a matter of life and death.
“Getting a flu shot is super important, for three reasons,” Dearborn stressed. “It reduces the likelihood that you will get the flu, it reduces the severity or duration of symptoms if you do get the flu, and at the population level it protects those vulnerable people whose health status prevents them from getting vaccinated. This last point is really crucial. If enough people get vaccinated for a disease, we achieve what’s called herd immunity, where the small number of unvaccinated people, [such as] young babies, or people with severe allergies to vaccine components, are protected, because a sick person is likely to encounter only vaccinated people and thus the disease can’t spread.”
The flu is a difficult disease to cure when an individual contracts the disease because there is no medicine that treats the disease itself. Treatment of the flu involves rest and relaxation for the disease to take its course, something many college student cannot afford.
So far, there have been roughly 500 students who have gotten their flu shot administered by health services. Information on the services provided by Health Services can be attested by Abby Alfred, Manager of Outreach and Support Services at Bates.
While Alfred did not have immediate access to outbreak data from the previous year, influenza among the student population was significant. “We had quite a few [students come to health center for influenza]. Most were students who had not been vaccinated. Some had been.”
It is possible, then, to contract influenza while still being vaccinated, but as Dearborn explained, the likelihood of getting the disease is significantly reduced, as is the intensity of the symptoms.
Alfred also stressed the specific importance of inoculation for college students. “Everyone lives in really tight quarters, so disease spreads really easily. We know that th flu shot is both effective in preventing the flu and reducing symptoms in those who do get sick… When students get sick, it is really debilitating for a while. You can be out for several days, [it] impacts your academics, your athletics if you’re involved. It just creates a huge challenge for individuals.”
The vaccinations are provided by Bates Health Services free of charge. To receive a vaccine, students must bring their insurance information, required already for entrance into the school. This allows all students to receive a vaccination and prevent the spread of the flu on campus.
Although it is a busy time of year for college students, this does not dismiss one’s civic responsibility to stop the future spreading of disease. However, Bates College, specifically Health Services has created an easy and effective way to vaccinate the majority of students by orchestrating clinics that occur in Commons. Students are able to quickly get vaccinated then eat their dinner in ten minutes or less.
If you missed the first clinic there is another clinic on November 21, 2019, in upstairs Commons 221-222 from 4-7 pm.

Katherine Merisotis
Contributing Writer

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