Students are patients, caregivers at flu shot clinics

The clinics give medical majors the opportunity for hands-on learning.

by Sadelle Schroeder

With two flu clinics left, Boynton Health Service has already administered approximately 12,250  immunizations this fall, and University of Minnesota students have been behind the needle at four of 24 clinics.
Pharmacy and nursing students enrolled in Immunization Tour, an elective course offered by the University, were given the opportunity to practice giving immunizations to patients. The course is offered to pharmacy juniors and nursing seniors.
Boynton spokesman Dave Golden said students have administered flu shots at the University since 2000. The course, which was started by students, isnâÄôt common to many colleges, he said.
Pharmacy junior Amanda Moss said administering shots to patients was âÄúnerve-racking,âÄù but she was glad to be offered a chance to practice on students and adults. Without the course, Moss said pharmacy majors might only practice once on a live patient. Through the course, however, Moss was able to give about 40 flu shots.
Nursing senior Anna Grossbach, who also participated in the course this fall, said the flu shot clinics were just the beginning of the UniversityâÄôs efforts to become more âÄúinterprofessional.âÄù
Health care majors are often educated within their own discipline and donâÄôt interact with students from other disciplines, Grossbach said. The interprofessional approach, where students from different majors collaborate in certain courses, would encourage them to work and learn together.
Grossbach also praised the programâÄôs collaborative approach to health care in general.
âÄúItâÄôs important to communicate instead of pointing fingers,âÄù Grossbach said. âÄúYouâÄôre a team, you canâÄôt afford to not support each other.âÄù
The clinics reached out to educate members of the community on the importance of immunization. The Department of Health and Human Services defines the concept of community immunity  âÄìâÄì often referred to as âÄúherd immunityâÄù âÄìâÄì as protecting a population from outbreaks of certain illnesses by having a high percentage of the community vaccinated.
âÄúHerd immunity will prevent outbreaks,âÄù Grossbach said. âÄúIt needs to happen to carry those who canâÄôt be immunized.âÄù She added that 85 percent of a community must be vaccinated for the herd immunity concept to be effective.
Grossbach also said some individuals are unable to be vaccinated, such as those who have an allergy to any of the vaccineâÄôs components. Others refuse vaccines due to rumors that they cause autism.
âÄúThere have been no studies that show immunizations correlating with autism,âÄù Grossbach said.
Regardless, a community with high immunization rates will still be protected from those who are not vaccinated because the disease will have a reduced opportunity to spread.
Vaccination clinics are part of an overall shift in health care from traditional treatment of illnesses after they occur to more preventive care and keeping patients healthy by teaching good lifestyle practices.
Grossbach stressed the importance of healthy practices for students because early adulthood is a crucial time for developing health habits.
âÄúYou start assuming your own health behaviors in college,âÄù she said. âÄúTaking care of your health and finding a balance are really important.âÄù
Students, faculty and staff can attend vaccination clinics  at no cost Nov. 29 at BoyntonâÄôs East Bank clinic and Dec. 1 at Java City in Moos Tower.