Flu shots to become available on campus

As the height of flu season is approaching, affordable flu shots are coming to the Stone Health Center in early November. All students will be able to receive these optional vaccines for $5; staff and faculty will pay a higher fee of $10. An email will be sent out in the early part of November announcing when the flu shots are available.

The Health Center has offered flu shots in previous years, but according to Campus Nurse Shelley Fletcher, getting immunized against this easily-spread virus is more important than ever due to the new class schedule. It’s hard to catch up on a missed week of school even without condensed classes, and professors and staff do not have the luxury of missing that much work either. 

“Because of the new block scheduling, it only takes five absences to fail a class, and flu symptoms typically last 10 – 14 days, which include significantly high fevers — usually 102 (degrees) or higher,” Fletcher said. 

Getting sick with the flu is a two-week-long detriment, and it is hard for anyone to function at full abilities, even with a normal cold. It is also important to consider that when someone gets sick, they then have a high potential to spread the virus to anyone they come in contact with during that period. 

“If students attend classes while they are ill, they should be aware of who and how many people they are exposing and possibly infecting. This means students should not attend class out of respect for those they would be exposing to the flu,” Fletcher said.

The flu virus is also very easy to spread and catch, communicable through various sources. In the human body, the flu virus travels in any secretion that comes from the respiratory system — this means saliva and mucus from either sneezing or coughing. Especially during flu season, it’s important for people to wash their hands often to avoid spreading viruses, even if they aren’t sick.

“If you consider how many times we touch our faces near our eyes, nose and mouth without realizing it, we are potentially putting ourselves and others at risk for flu transmission without ever even realizing it,” Fletcher said. 

Even though flu shots have been consistently available on campus in previous years, the process of making these vaccines available was lengthy. 

Fletcher had to consider which vaccine type would be best to purchase, and how many she could buy with the given budget without having leftover vaccines. This was complicated, somewhat by the fact that Fletcher was ordering the shots later than most other providers so most supply companies did not have the kind she wanted to purchase in stock. Some of the suppliers that had the right kind of vaccine would not provide a price quote without a physician’s license. As the campus health center is not directly affiliated with a physician, Fletcher opted to work with a supplier that the college already had an account with from previous deals. After getting the price quote and being able to do the math on how many vaccines could be purchased, the order was made with help from Dr. Pritchard from Family Medical Center. This was due to HC not having a physician on staff. 

Anyone planning on getting vaccinated should plan on doing so as soon as possible after Fletcher sends out the announcement in early November.