University Health Services campaign provides flu shots to campus community

Nick Hadjigeorge

With the high temperatures lasting into the fall, it may not feel like the flu season is fast approaching. But University Health Services is taking precautionary measures against the virus through a campaign to distribute vaccines to students and faculty during the coming weeks.

The UHS Flu Shot Campaign begins today at the Student Services Building in room G1.310 from noon to 4 p.m. The campaign will continue to offer the vaccine in various locations around campus until Oct. 20. The full list of dates and locations can be found on the UHS website.

The flu shot is available for free to all students and faculty who present their UT ID and a health insurance card, not including Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or HMO plans. The shot costs $10 for those without health insurance.

Senior UHS coordinator Sherry Bell said the flu is more serious than students usually realize and stressed the correlation between contracting the virus and decreased academic performance.

Bell said almost 20 percent of respondents said they have suffered a negative academic impact in the last 12 months because of a cold, the flu or sore throats, according to a 2010 campus health assessment survey.

She said providing a flu shot campaign is central to UHS’s purpose of promoting a healthy environment on campus.

“Campus is, by nature, crowded, so it makes it much easier to pick up viruses that cause cold and flu,” Bell said.

Bell said the University is prepared to distribute 10,000 vaccines during this year’s campaign and said last year’s immunizations totaled 9,028. Bell also said misguided fears of the vaccine causing a person to get the flu are nothing to worry about.

“The vaccine doesn’t have the ability to cause the flu,” Bell said. “The virus in the vaccine is dead.”

Uninsured and under-insured Austinites can also receive free flu shots provided by the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department at participating clinics.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone six months and older should get the vaccine each year as soon as it becomes available. According to their statistics, the number of influenza related deaths for the past 30 years ranged from 3,300 to 49,000 per year.

Radio-television-film sophomore Fabian Fernandez said he is choosing to opt out of this years flu shot campaign.

“I don’t think vaccines actually work so my friends joke that I’m into the conspiracies about them,” Fernandez said. “I’ve never had the flu shot and I’ve also never had the flu so I won’t get one [this year].”

Sophomore Jacob Perez said that he has taken the flu shot in the past and plans to take it again this year.

“The vaccines are really convenient since they give them out all over campus,” Perez said. “If you have insurance, you might as well.”

Printed September 27, 2011 as: Flu shot campaign promotes vaccines for students with or without insurance