Student Health Services to administer free October flu shots to students
Published: Sunday, October 7, 2012
Updated: Sunday, October 7, 2012 23:10
As flu season approaches this year, Student Health Services is running their annual clinic administering the vaccine for UConn students. For students who are weighing the pros and cons of the shot, the director of the clinic, Kathleen Sanner, says the benefit is simply: “You don’t get the flu.”
Student Health Services usually administers about 1,500 flu shots on average each year, although last year’s numbers sank with less than 1,000 vaccines given.
“I don’t get flu shots, I got one 6 years ago and got sick, also I generally don’t get sick,” said Tyler Alexander.
However, Sanner wants students to know that they cannot get the flu from the vaccination because that strain will then be dead. What students do sometimes experience is a reaction to the shot. Sanner encourages students to remember as flu season begins that the flue is not necessarily vomiting and diarrhea but a respiratory illness associtated with high fevers and a hacking cough.
This year’s vaccine, like many years past, is trivalent – meaning that it contains and protects from three different strains of the flu. Two of these three strains are new to the vaccine this year. As far as how these strains are selected, since the North East is affected later than other areas in the world with the flu, global research is done to determine a trend in what strains are prevalent in this year’s flu virus. Another way to determine possible strains is to look at the strain from last year and consider possible mutations, according to Sanner.
A new method of administering the shot has been advertised recently, this being the use of a 90 percent shorter needle to inject the vaccine. This method involves injecting intradermally as opposed to the traditional intramuscular injection. The risk with this new, shorter needle is that since the injection is very shallow many people get a severe local reaction at the injection site. The symptoms of this reaction include redness and burning. In order to avoid the risk of these local reactions UConn has made the decision to remain with the traditional intramuscular approach to flu shots, with this method the main reaction is a sore muscle for a day or two.
Though drug stores such as CVS and Walgreens have been advertising flu vaccines since the summer, it isn’t necessarily better to receive a shot early.
“Most drug stores administer the vaccine in July and August which means your immunity will be waning by the time the flu hits the North East in February and March,” said Sanner. “We give the vaccine in October because students will be protected for the projected flu season but will still be protected if the virus hits earlier or later.”
Free flu shots for students with ID will be administered in the Student Union Ballroom October 30, 9-5 p.m. and October 31, 9-2 p.m., walk-ins are welcome. The first 1000 students will be given the vaccine, however if there is a high demand another clinic will be run in November.