Flu season approaches; students are vaccinated

The annual flu shot clinic sponsored by Health Services vaccinated approximately 600 members of the College and its surrounding community last Thursday, according to Ken Bear, executive director of Passport Health, the company providing the shots.

“I was very pleasantly surprised to see the number of students getting the vaccine as opposed to those at other campuses we go to,” Bear said.

Associate Director of Health Services, Janice Vermeychuk, said in the past about 400 people received flu shots at the College.

Health Services contracted Passport Health, which specializes in immunizations for travelers, to offer the flu vaccine for $20, the Flu Mist nasal vaccine for $65 and the pneumococcal vaccine for $35.

Hiring an outside company allowed the flu clinic to last eight hours, compared to six over a two-day period in the past. Passport Health provided an unlimited supply of the vaccine and its own staff.

A drawback, however, was that students could not use their Lion Cards to pay. Although credit cards were advertised as acceptable means of payment, the company’s digital credit machine was incompatible with the College’s analog phone line, making cash necessary.

Three nurses from Passport Health administered the shots, the new vaccine Flu Mist and the nasal spray vaccinations.

The flu vaccine is the most effective way to protect against influenza, a respiratory illness that causes fever and cold-like symptoms and is in-season from November to April.

The influenza virus is extremely contagious, especially when living in the close confines of a college residence hall, because it can be spread by air or contact.

“On a college campus, flu spreads very quickly,” Vermeychuk said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site, the injectable flu vaccine is made from three strands of a killed influenza virus, while Flu Mist uses three from a live, weakened virus.

The flu shot is injected into the upper arm and usually results in soreness for one or two days. “I’m scared of shots but I’m getting the flu shot anyway because I don’t want the flu,” Katie Warner, sophomore psychology major, said.

Those who missed the flu shot clinic can still be vaccinated at Passport Health’s office in Lawrenceville, Bear said. Directions and contact information to make an appointment are available through Health Services.