Health Services to offer free flu vaccinations to students

Leaves are changing colors, sporting events are in full swing, but what students catch this fall may not be a football.

Flu season is right around the corner, and college students have a high risk of catching the illness. Health Services is pursuing ways to help students to fight the flu before it starts.

Vaccinations will be offered on campus Tuesday, Oct. 28 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Curris Center Dance Lounge as part of a flu shot clinic.

Judy Lyle, associate director of Health Services, is excited to administer the flu vaccinations for the third consecutive year.

“Our goal is to immunize as many students as possible,” Lyle said. “You never know how severe flu is going to be each year. We have had a documented case on campus and just a little bit of exposure can get it started.”

Lyle said it could be as easy as someone sneezing and the droplets contacting their desk to get someone sick. If the next person who sits at the desk rubs it and later rubs their nose or eyes, the flu may be spread.

Students are within close confines in the classroom and residential colleges. Therefore, the flu shot can benefit all students, whether living on or off campus, Lyle said.

Whitney Ballard, employee health nurse at Murray-Calloway Hospital, said stress and poor nutrition are factors most college students must overcome to fight the flu.

“If stress levels are high, your immune system levels will be low,” Ballard said. “We should all take precautions like washing your hands as often as possible, as well as any time before or after you eat, blow your nose or come into contact with anyone else.”

It is also important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the flu in order to reduce the effects of the illness, Ballard said.

Common symptoms include a fever of 100 degrees or higher, coughing or sore throat, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue.

With any immunization, complications may arise. However, Lyle said that the most problems that students will have with the flu shot will be a sore arm.

“Immunization will decrease your chance of getting the flu,” Lyle said. “But if you do get (the flu), it will be less severe.”

Lyle said that if students catch the flu, they could expect to be sick for one week and feel fatigued the next week.

Some students may also be at a higher risk to catch the flu than others.

“Students that have issues with asthma or any underlying medical condition should definitely consider getting the flu shot,” Lyle said.

One factor students may see as an advantage is the cost of the flu shot at the clinic. Vaccinations given by Health Services or senior nursing students that work alongside nurse practitioners are free.

Receiving a flu shot from a pharmacy costs approximately $25, Lyle said. Flu shots given at doctor’s offices could include the price of the vaccine plus a co-pay.

Health Services has 200 vaccinations available for students wishing to receive a shot. Last year, 97 students took advantage of this opportunity.

The vaccinations will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Health services will continue to administer the vaccinations if there are any left over after Tuesday’s event.

Story by Tiffany WhitfillStaff writer