For students, close living quarters mean not only sharing space but also sharing germs. To counter the slew of illnesses the fall semester brings, the University Health Service will offer $15-flu vaccine starting later this month.
UHS will also be holding clinics across campus where students can be vaccinated, from Nov. 17 to 21, in locations such as the Michigan Union. Other clinic locations have yet to be determined, but on Nov. 14 table tents will be placed in all residence hall dining areas with the complete list of locations where students may obtain the vaccination.
“When there is the flu in the community, everyone is susceptible. We see students, faculty and staff with influenza,” UHS Director Robert Winfield said.
Flu symptoms can include fever, sore throat, cough, headache, chills and muscle ache and are sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
“I had (the vaccination) last year. I didn’t want to waste time that I could use going to classes. If you’re sick, your performance drops. (The vaccine) did help,” LSA sophomore Filip Fracz said.
Although some students such as Fracz choose to invest in the vaccination, many more do not.
“I would probably get it if everyone started getting (the flu), but no one really has it right now,” Business School junior Zhuo Wang said.
But by that time, it may be too late. UHS’s website suggests getting the vaccination before or during December, because immunity develops about two weeks after receiving it.
In addition, it also advises that students living in the residence halls be vaccinated, as the virus is easy to catch when living in close quarters.
“Periodically, the flu has reached epidemic proportions. Some years it is light, and some years it is heavy. Last year was a light year,” Winfield said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2003-2004 influenza statistics, about 36,000 people die each year from the flu, and 114,000 more are hospitalized. This is partly due to the fact that the flu can also lead to pneumonia.
The CDC also offers information about FluMist, a live, intranasal influenza vaccine. FluMist was licensed in 2003, and is only available for healthy individuals ages five to 49.
UHS is not currently offering FluMist, but it is considering it for possible use in the future. For now, vaccination is the only method UHS offers for preventing the flu.
“I think that the vaccination is an option for people who are otherwise healthy, because influenza is a 10-day illness and rather severe. But, for people who do not want it, it is not absolutely necessary,” said Winfield.
Vaccinations are also regularly given at the Allergy, Immunization and Travel Clinic, located on the first floor of the UHS Building. No appointment is necessary.