Flu season, measles outbreak spark vaccine controversy

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It’s February, and the Clarion community finds itself in the throes of flu season yet again. This year, talk of mutations of the flu virus as well as outbreaks of other diseases like measles have illnesses making headlines.

Vaccinations themselves have become a hot-button topic, stemming from the December 2014 outbreak of measles at Disneyland in California.

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In that outbreak, 165 of the 288 victims were unvaccinated by choice, according to the Center for Disease Control, causing many to call for mandatory vaccinations to avoid these outbreaks in the future.

Many people who aren’t vaccinated often make this decision for religious or philosophical reasons.

Another concern regarding vaccines revolves around the belief that they can lead to developmental disorders among children.

Television personality Jenny McCarthy has been an outspoken supporter in the belief that vaccines can cause autism, a disorder her son Evan was diagnosed with in 2005.

The issue has picked up so much steam that it has become a political wedge issue, with MSNBC reporting that 2016 presidential hopefuls Chris Christie and Rand Paul have each spoken out on the subject.

“If a person chooses not to get vaccinated, that puts my own health and the health of those around me at risk,” said student Felicia Kiser.

Kiser acknowledged everyone’s right to beliefs, but said, “it’s important to look out for the good of your own children and the people around you.”

Another student, Beven Moore, believes there is no connection between vaccines or autism, a sentiment also echoed by Kiser.

“Vaccines are FDA-approved and have saved many young children’s lives,” said Moore.

Despite whatever someone’s belief may be on vaccination, most health experts say a flu shot is something everyone should consider in order to stay healthy until spring arrives.The best way to get protection from the flu is to get the vaccine shot.

The flu vaccine has made headlines this year for not working as well on some strains of the H3N2 virus, but is still recommended as the best method of preventing the illness, per the CDC. It is recommended that everyone gets a flu shot every year.

This is because a person’s immune protection declines over time, so getting a new shot every year gives you optimal protection.

Not only are flu shots important for one’s own health, but for others around as well. Getting a flu shot will protect the people who are more vulnerable to serious illnesses, such as small children and older adults, from getting sick.

For some possible precautions you can take to prevent the flu, Lynn Mason of Clarion University’s Keeling Health Center recommends getting a flu vaccination, as well as simple things like washing your hands, eating a healthy diet, and getting plenty of rest.

Possible symptoms of the flu can include fever, body aches, chills, coughing and a sore throat.

Keeling is offering flu shots to students and faculty between 9 and 11:30 a.m. and 1 and 3:30 p.m. daily while supplies last. The cost is $20 for students, and it is billed to the student account. Shots for faculty members are $25.

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