Getting your meningitis shot is mandatory; whining about it is just a privilege.
Thanks to a Connecticut state law forcing all college students to submit to the stick-and-run meningococcal vaccination, a widespread bout of belonephobia, the scientific term for fear of pins and needles, has infected once stouthearted Yalies.
At Yale, where students’ biggest problem often is trying to discern pastrami from roast beef at the deli bar, some students whimpered like preschoolers when asked to take the meningitis shot nearly every Yalie must now undergo.
Despite bribes of cavity-causing hard candy, female nurses with wide smiles wearing glaringly white uniforms, and the promise that the shot would take little longer than a nanosecond, students cringe, squeal, and bring comfort food to deal with the vaccinations. If they show up at all.
One girl at Branford College on the night of the Super Bowl held an ice cream cone in one hand as she got her injection in the opposite arm.
“Does it, like, do anything?” she asked. “Is it going to hurt — oh God!”
Yet a moment later, the student was still alive, free to lick her ice cream cone as if she had never been through the horrible experience.
Another student laughed nervously as a nurse swabbed his arm with alcohol.
“I bet you just want to get this over and done with,” the nurse said.
With kickoff for Super Bowl XXXVI only minutes away, the nurse had a point. Besides fear and the Sunday evening game, students had a multitude of other reasons (or excuses) to resent the meningococcal vaccine.
Some students, like Kyle Dunn ’03 and his roommates, have resorted to playing dumb rather than face the dreaded needle.
“When they say mandatory in the e-mail, do they really mean mandatory?” Dunn asked about the e-mail sent to students regarding the residential college clinics.
Dunn added that he thought the residential college clinics, where students are administered the vaccinations, might just be information sessions. When he discovered that actual shots are given, he said he would make it a point to attend.
The consequences of not getting vaccinated, according to nurse Robyn Levenduski, could only add to more student griping.
“Students won’t be able to register for classes in the fall,” Levenduski said.
Diana Aleman ’04 said she thinks people with religious reasons for not taking the vaccines could sue if punished for refusing.
“I don’t believe everyone should have to take the vaccine,” said Aleman, who wants to live off-campus next year, which would allow her to forego the shot. “Some people have religious convictions against it, like Christian Scientists and Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Rumors, phobias and misunderstandings aside, students invariably find that the pre-shot anxiety was worse than the actual injection, according to nurse Elise DeMayo.
“Students are happy, a little anxious to get it, but leave with a smile,” she said.
Jeremiah Quinlan ’03 agreed.
“It was harmless,” Quinlan said. “Easiest shot I ever had.”