Boynton tries to keep flu bug at bay with free immunization clinics

by Mickie Barg

Nursing and pharmacy students have joined forces and are poised with syringes in hand to give flu shots today at two University locations.
The walk-in clinics will be held from noon to 2 p.m. at the Academic Health Center’s CHIP Student Center and from 4 to 7 p.m. at Pioneer Hall. Boynton Health Service also takes flu shot appointments during clinic hours. The immunizations are free for students paying the student services fee.
“We received 600 doses of the vaccine on Nov. 16 and began immunizing those in the high-risk category,” said Dave Golden, Boynton community programs specialist. “We have 1,200 doses for flu clinics open to anyone.”
People considered high risk include the elderly, people with chronic and circulatory conditions, asthma and diabetes. These people should receive vaccines first, according to the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
The University’s target populations are health care students and professionals who could become sick and transmit the influenza to other patients and those living in the residence halls.
The close living conditions in student housing also poses a risk of a flu epidemic at the University. If one person contracts influenza it would be easy for everyone living around them to get it as well, said Todd Sorensen, pharmacy school program director.
“We want to immunize students living in close proximity,” said Judith Beniak, nursing school student services director.
Vaccine shipments have been delayed by the provider due to problems in producing a certain strain of the vaccine. Boynton officials were forced to cancel a series of flu clinics planned for early November.
A pharmacy honorary student organization received a funding award for the influenza vaccine program and joined forces with the School of Nursing to carry out the project.
Students from the two schools will be doing the immunizing under faculty supervision.
“There will be six pharmacy and six nursing students who will screen individuals for the vaccine and give the shots,” Sorensen said.
The flu season generally peaks in February but can begin as early as December or January. Patients must receive the flu immunization about two weeks prior to possible flu exposure for immunity to take effect.

Mickie Barg covers health and welcomes comments at [email protected]