College is filled with plenty of disease transmission opportunities — and not just STD’s, either!

Between all classroom interactions, dorm room living, and stress, there are plenty of chances to contract the flu and spread the virus.  The Centers for Disease Control lists three simple steps to avoiding the flu:

  1. Take time to get the flu vaccine.
  2. Take preventative measures to stop the spread of germs (e.g., Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; throw the tissue in the trash after you use it; wash your hands often; and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.)
  3. Take antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them, as they are different from antibiotics.

Of these, getting the flu vaccine is perhaps the most “controversial”.  The College Fix offers a sampling of the myths behind flu shots.

Well, lately there have been a lot of rumors and bits of misinformation floating around about whether the flu vaccine is safe and/or effective.

The Washington Post has published an article debunking five common myths. Here’s a brief excerpt:

3. The vaccine won’t keep you from getting the flu — and it’s unsafe, anyway.

The flu vaccine is about 62 percent effective in preventing the flu — obviously not perfect. Still, vaccines are matched to this year’s flu strains, particularly the virulent H3N2 causing the worst problems, and are the best way to prevent infection should you be exposed.

Vaccines are also safe. Anti-vaccine advocates such as HBO talk-show host Bill Maher — who said on Twitter in 2009 that people who got swine-flu shots were “idiots” — have falsely suggested that the flu shot puts a live virus in your arm. Such rumors contribute to an unfortunate phenomenon: “vaccine hesitancy.” Respiratory-disease expert Frank Esper of UH Case Medical Center in Ohio told that flu shots have “absolutely no live virus. . . . You cannot get the flu from the shot because it doesn’t contain all the parts of the flu virus.” The CDC confirm this on their Web site.

Still, vaccine hesitancy gives people an excuse not to get a shot or to get one too late, as it takes about two weeks to develop immunity after vaccination. Vaccine naysayers, beware: You are missing out on your best possible protection…

To read about the other five common myths, as well as some surprising statistics about the number of deaths that, historically, result from flu, check out the full article.