By Courtney Bottazzi
University Health Services urges students to receive annual flu shots and the Gardasil vaccination to help prevent both men’s and women’s chances of contracting flu, swine flu, HPV or genital warts.
The proximity of a campus community can create the perfect breeding ground for viruses and bacteria, especially after a break to go home, said Dr. Don Stechschulte, director of Student Health Services.
“One to two weeks after reconvening there will be another spike. You may come back with different viruses and bacteria that you have never seen before,” Stechshulte said.
A study showed that it took exactly 13.6 days of a campus community coming back together after a vacation period for there to be another spike in disease, Stechshulte said.
“Everyone should get the flu shot this year because it contains vaccines to fight off both the H1 and H2 strands,” Stechschulte said.
The H1N1 strand was the cause of the swine flu epidemic last year. In addition to the flu shot, Stechschulte urges staff, faculty and students (especially juniors and seniors) to look into the TDAP vaccine. Students may have received the vaccine for whooping cough during childhood, but recent studies show that it does not last an entire lifetime.
TDAP is a booster shot that contains the Tetanus vaccine as well as extra protection against whooping cough. The flu shot and TDAP are easily accepted as vaccines suitable for men and women, but Gardasil is usually not.
“This summer the HPV vaccine is now available for men. You can eliminate being a carrier—won’t get it, won’t give it,” Stechschulte said.
Stechschulte has spoken to three fraternities about this virus. The improved Gardasil vaccination can prevent four types of the human papillomavirus.
HPV can have a physical effect on male bodies—genital warts, Stechschulte said. Studies have shown that in most cases, certain strands of the virus have been cleared and will not have a lasting effect. Other strands of HPV can cause cervical cancer or genital warts.
“The most common form of transferring [HPV] is unprotected sex,” Stechschulte said.
By wearing a condom you reduce the risk of giving or receiving HPV but there is still no guarantee because the virus can be transmitted through any type of compromised skin contact surrounding the genital area, he said.
Health services can provide flu shots, Gardasil shots and Pap tests and will not notify patients’ parents without the students’ explicit permission.
“I got the Gardasil shots when they first came out. I wasn’t sure if there would be side effects later on but I decided it was worth the prevention,” said Chelsea Straus ’12.