As flu season approaches, Student Health Services is urging Temple students to get vaccinated by going as far as to set up a one-day clinic to provide students with the service.
The vaccinations, administered by the health professionals of Maxim Health Systems, a division of Maxim Healthcare Services, which specializes in conducting on-site flu clinics nationwide, cost $25 for students. Meningitis vaccinations were also given for $125 during the clinical services at The Underground Nov. 15.
“The clinic is totally new,” said Mark Denys, associate director of Student Health Services.
“We targeted about 34,000 students. Do I think 34,000 students will show up?
Absolutely not. However, this is the first year we ever had an outside company come in and provide the flu vaccine. We just wanted to increase the opportunity to students and make it more available to them.
“The reason why we were bringing in an outside company is, with 34,000 students, we have to be prepared to provide, basically if it comes to it, 34,000 doses.”
Influenza, commonly known as the “flu,” is a potentially fatal virus that causes severe respiratory infections and can be easily spread from person to person through simple contact such as sneezing and coughing. Some common symptoms of the flu include high fever, sore throat and muscle aches.
While flu season generally peaks in February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the best time to get vaccinated is from October to late December.
“I definitely think this is a good thing that Temple is doing this for its students,” said Gina Monturo, a senior psychology major who received
the flu vaccination.
“It’s especially good for people that don’t have health insurance or can’t go to a doctor because they’re considered ineligible.”
Small children, senior citizens and people with chronic respiratory problems are specifically advised to receive flu vaccinations every year. College students, especially those who live in dormitories, are also encouraged to get vaccinated because of the close-knit environment
they are exposed to everyday.
“For some college students, it’s easier to get the flu on campus because they live in closer quarters,” Denys said. “Those in residence halls are in a higher risk category than other students.”
“[Fortunately], we only had one confirmed
case of influenza on campus last year in one of the residence halls,” he said. “We contacted every student in that residence hall by e-mail and requested that they get vaccinated immediately.”
Students that were not able to attend the flu clinic are still strongly encouraged by Health Services to make an appointment if they are interested in receiving vaccination. Otherwise, Denys suggested finding an adequate vaccination from an outside source.
“I know that Rite Aid has clinics, as well as a lot of grocery stores, but I think they charge around $30 to $35. [Students] can always go to their family physician and ask for the flu vaccine there also,” he said.
Last year, Student Health Services provided
students with flu vaccines by ordering the vaccines themselves. Since many of the doses ended up going to waste, Temple decided to try something different this year.
“Last year, while we only purchased 300 doses, we had to end up throwing out 120 doses and we basically wasted over $1,200 of our budget and costs,” Denys said.
“This year we decided to just pass that cost onto the students because we don’t have a budget [this year] to provide vaccinations for free for 34,000 students. It would be a bit beyond our means.”
The “inactivated” vaccinations, which are administered by injection, are more readily
available this year after a national shortage in 2005 excluded most people who attempted to get the vaccination because it was reserved predominately for senior citizens and people with chronic diseases.
That changed in time for the 2006 flu season.
“The good news is that plenty of vaccine will be out there,” Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said. “This year we have more doses of vaccine than we have ever produced in the United States.”
According to Gerberding, flu vaccine manufacturers reported a sizable increase in the number of vaccinations they expect to distribute this year. Nearly 110 million to 115 million flu vaccinations were ordered, an increase by at least 27 million.
“Getting vaccinated is the single best way for people to protect not only themselves against the flu, but their loved ones as well,” said Gerberding. “It is never too late to get flu shots and it is important to do it as soon as you can.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 36,000 people die from influenza each year in the United States and the disease can affect up to 20 percent of the American population. Receiving vaccination decreases these risks drastically.
“I don’t usually get flu shots every year but I decided to this year for different reasons,” Monturo said.
“For one, there are different viruses around, so I figured I might as well [get vaccinated]while I can.”
Since the flu virus is constantly changing, flu vaccines are updated every year and protection from the vaccine can last up to a full year. Side effects are usually measured as low -risk or minimal.
Maya Davis can be reached at email@example.com.