With flu season just around the corner, students who want to avoid getting sick this year can now get a free shot in the arm.
Today, Boynton Health Service will begin offering flu shots – with complimentary stickers and cookies – to students, faculty and staff. Flu-shot clinics will be held throughout campus each week until Nov. 30.
Members of the general public will also able to get shots at the clinics for $25 in cash.
“It’s our first time doing that this year,” said Dave Golden, Boynton’s public health and marketing director, of the opportunity for the public to receive their shots.
Boynton Director Edward Ehlinger said the health service administered about 13,000 shots last year, 70 percent of them to students. He said he would like that number to increase this season.
“We have a target of doing 20,000 flu shots this year,” Ehlinger said. “And not just students Ö we need everybody to get vaccinated.”
The more people who get shots the better, he said, because if around 80 percent get one, the risk of getting sick will be significantly reduced for everyone, whether or not they get vaccinated.
Boynton wants students to get vaccinated not only because it helps keep them healthy, but also because it can prevent them from giving the flu to people who are more at risk, such as grandparents or younger cousins, who could become seriously ill or even die from it, Golden said.
“You don’t want to bring the flu home for the holidays,” he said.
Flu season is generally said to last from November until April.
Ehlinger said the University offers clinics early in the season because students often get sick earlier than the rest of the state. This is because they are generally busier, exposed to more people and engage in stressful activities like smoking and drinking.
Boynton also offers shots now because if students don’t get a shot by Thanksgiving, they often won’t get one at all, Ehlinger said.
“There is this mindset that if you don’t get a shot by December, then it’s too late,” he said. “Even if you don’t get a shot in October or November, you can still get one in January and it will protect you.”
Melanie Gray, a psychology junior, said she gets a flu shot every year and is planning to get one again this flu season.
“It helps you not get at least one thing going around campus,” she said.
Gray has been getting shots at Boynton for the last couple of years, she said, because it’s easier than driving somewhere and she can usually get it done between classes.
Jason Lahr, a sociology junior, said while it is a good idea for people in at-risk populations to get flu shots, he didn’t think it was necessary for others.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had the flu,” he said.
Lahr said he used to get flu shots, but doesn’t any longer.
“I was in the Marine Corps, and they made us get them every year,” he said. “I would get sick right after getting them.”