Now that flu season has officially begun, university officials are encouraging students, faculty and staff to get their flu shots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that flu vaccinations be offered by the end of October, in order to prevent reduced protection later in the season from early vaccination times.
That’s why Director of Health Education and Alcohol/Drug Prevention Coordinator Donna Darmody and the Health and Wellness Educators (HAWEs) are hosting table times this month where students can get their flu shots on campus.
On Monday, Oct. 21, the HAWEs will set up a table in Upper Commons for students to receive flu shots from CVS pharmacy staff. On Tuesday, Oct. 29, the table will be in the GHH Atrium, and on Wednesday, Nov. 13. it will move back to Commons. All of the events will start at 10:30 a.m. and run until 2:30 p.m.
According to Anne Mitchell, family nurse practitioner and director of Health Services, these table times saw under 400 students come in to get their flu shots last year.
Darmody explained the simple process of getting the vaccine. Shots will be free of charge as long as students give CVS their insurance information. Students don’t have insurance can still get a flu shot for $25 by making an appointment with Health Services..
Some people debate whether or not it is worth it to get a flu shot, based on questions of effectiveness and if it is still possible to contract the flu. Mitchell explained the benefit of getting a flu shot is to avoid getting sick yourself and avoid making other people sick — especially those who are vulnerable, such as children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems. This idea is called protecting “herd immunity,” Mitchell said.
According to the CDC, the flu vaccination reduces the risk of contracting the flu by 40 to 60% among the overall population.
“No flu shot is guaranteed to hit all strains of the flu,” Darmody said.
Generally, current flu vaccines tend to work better against influenza B and influenza A(H1N1) viruses, while offering lower protection against influenza A(H3N2) viruses, according to the CDC.
Mitchell,Darmody and the HAWEs are highly encouraging students to get their flu shots. Junior public health major Elsa Schloemer and second-year HAWE recommends students get the vaccine, even if they have hesitations over it.
“People argue that it makes them feel a little sick or queasy afterward, they don’t like needles, or [they have had a] bad reaction before. Even so... I’d say no matter what, it’s always wise to get it.” Schloemer said.
Students can get their flu vaccines from CVS or their health care providers if they prefer. Though, these on-campus vaccination clinics bring a certain level of convenience and accessibility to students, so Mitchell hopes they will take advantage of it.
“We are hoping that this year we will see a significant increase in the number of flu vaccines administered,” Mitchell said.