FROM THE SPECIAL COLLECTIONS ARCHIVES: Student Probably Invincible After Getting Nine Flu Shots

by JACOB BASKES December, 2019

Every fall, members of the World Health Organization’s Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System analyze millions of data points to make a best guess as to what the upcoming winter’s flu strain will be. According to the team’s publicly available statistics, it is wrong an encouraging 84% of the time. In response to the process’ uncertainty, Bowdoin Senior and vaccine aficionado Lianna Hernandez opted to get not one, not five, but nine different flu shots.

Bowdoin Health Services began offering flu vaccinations in October, opening its office to students twice per month for one day of free flu shots. Hernandez attended each one, but “it simply wasn’t often enough,” she said.

“I loved the rush, and I needed to feel absolutely invincible. You never know which strain of flu will be big this year. German bug flu? Check. Bolivian hammer flu? I’m on it.” She cycled through the Midcoast Hospital, the Midcoast Walk-in Clinic, and the Thornton Oaks Retirement Community until she had received a total of nine vaccinations. “I feel great,” she said. “I think.”

The immunity has not come without its downsides. Since Hernandez began her vaccination spree, she has grown three extra toes and lost the ability to blink. As a consequence, she has also developed a persistent case of pink eye and has been consistently leaving class to dunk her head in a bucket of warm water that, thankfully, her professors have allowed her to keep outside in the hallway.

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