U arms campus with flu shots

by Jamie VanGeest

In the coming months, some people will enjoy the winter and huddle to stay warm – but they may want to think twice before getting too close.

For the health and wellness of people across the University, the first of several free flu shot clinics will be open today for students, staff and faculty members.

Boynton Health Service’s first clinic will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Moos Tower.

In the next three months, nine more flu clinics are scheduled at different locations on campus.

The flu shots are free for faculty and staff members because the immunization is covered by employee benefits. Students also receive the shot free because it is covered by student fees.

“Every year 30,000 people die from influenza, and 100,000 people are hospitalized,” said David Golden, director of marketing at Boynton Health Service.

Even a healthy person might have to miss a week of school or work because of the flu, he said.

One of the biggest questions from students this year about the flu is if it makes you nauseous and vomit, Golden said.

The answer is “no.” The flu is an upper respiratory infection that causes lung congestion, fever and weakness, he said.

Another question is if this year’s vaccine protects against the avian flu. Golden said it does not because the avian flu is a different flu strain and a vaccination is not available to the public.

The third question Golden often hears is whether a person can get sick from the vaccine. A person does not get sick from the vaccine because it contains dead viruses, he said.

At most, a person will feel achy afterward or get a sore arm, Golden said.

The people who most need the vaccine are those older than 65, people with weakened respiratory systems because of asthma or other conditions, health care workers and those who will be pregnant during the flu season.

This year, there are no vaccine shortages. Therefore, Golden encourages everyone to get a flu shot and a free cookie after the vaccination.

Tips for avoiding the flu this season include washing hands, eating a balanced diet, reducing stress and coughing into the bent part of the arm versus the hand, he said.

“This will prevent you from bringing influenza home to your family for the holidays,” Golden said.

Also, alcohol suppresses the immune system, so alcohol consumption should be avoided during the flu season, he said.

Matt Swedell, a senior Asian studies student said, “My mom usually gets pretty worried about flu season, so I will get my shot.”

But Lisa Szymczak, a senior in religious studies said, “I have never gotten sick with the flu; instead of getting a shot, I will take vitamins.”