University health officials usually encourage students to receive flu vaccinations each fall. But this year, officials are urging students to forgo the precaution.
Boynton Health Service has not received any flu vaccinations so far this year because major flu-vaccine manufacturer Chiron Corporation has not distributed any vaccines this year. Half of the nation’s vaccines will not be delivered this year.
“We ordered 100 percent of our doses from Chiron,” Boynton Public Health Director Dave Golden said. “So, as of right now, we have no vaccine. We’re looking to other clinics for vaccines.”
Boynton requested 13,000 vaccines from the company. He said Boynton needs approximately 2,000 vaccines to treat high-risk people.
Although 30 percent of students received vaccines last year, healthy students should not attempt to receive the vaccine this year, Golden said.
“We need to get it to high-risk groups,” he said.
Those groups include people age 65 and older, young children and pregnant women, among others.
Boynton Health Service Director Ed Ehlinger said the absence of flu vaccination on campus could mean more people missing classes and more people getting sick.
“This caught us all by surprise,” he said. “We were so pleased last year with the great results to be able to immunize the faculty, students and staff on campus. It’s discouraging not to be able to do a similar effort this year.”
Some students said they are nervous about not having vaccines available to them.
First-year student Bonnie Carow-Smith said she has already had a cold this year. She lives in a residence hall and said her roommate caught her cold.
“A lot of people on our wing are sick,” she said. “I’m worried – there’s a lot of people in a small space.”
Sophomore Dan Dejaeger said he waited more than two hours to get a flu shot last year but did not end up getting one.
He said he is a little concerned.
“Once one roommate gets sick, it goes around the whole house like wildfire,” he said.
But first-year student Dan McCormick said he was not worried about getting the flu, even though he lives in a residence hall.
“I’ve never had the flu in the past,” he said. “And I don’t get flu shots.”
Golden said that although most students will not be able to receive flu immunizations, they can try to prevent themselves from getting infected.
He said students should try to keep their immune systems healthy by getting plenty of sleep, lowering their alcohol consumption, eating well, washing their hands, covering coughs and keeping their living environments clean.
The University will distribute information on how to prevent the flu. Places such as classrooms and residence halls where many people interact, are of special importance, said Jerry Rinehart, associate vice provost of the Office of Student Affairs.
“I want to make sure students know if they’re not in the high-risk group, don’t get immunized so we have the vaccine available for the people who need it most,” he said.