With flu season approaching, University Health Services offers shots for students and staff

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October marks the beginning of flu season, accompanied annually by a flurry of sniffy noses and 100-degree fevers.

Starting Monday, University Health Services will offer flu shots to UT students, faculty and staff on select dates through Oct. 17.

The flu shot service is free for students who have insurance — except Health Maintenance Organization plans, plans with insurance companies based outside the U.S. and governmental plans — and faculty and staff who have UT Select insurance. Other students, faculty and staff can be vaccinated for $10.

Last year, UHS vaccinated a total of 5,400 students and 3,400 faculty and staff, according to Sherry Bell, UHS senior program coordinator, who is leading the flu shot campaign. 

Theresa Spalding, medical director at UHS, said she sees the most students come in after Thanksgiving and winter break, peaking in February. Spalding said the department’s strategy is to vaccinate as many students as possible to avoid the spread of the flu.

“If by chance, someone [is] exposed to the virus [after vaccination], they won’t get it and they won’t spread it,” Spalding said.

Rachel York, a youth and community studies junior, received a flu vaccine last year. York said she plans to get vaccinated again this fall.

“I used to always get the flu when I didn’t get the flu shot, and ever since I got the shot, I don’t get the flu so I make sure to get it,” York said. 

Business freshman Fariha Hossain said she gets vaccinated approximately every other year and plans to visit UHS sometime this week to get the flu vaccine.

“I have a really weak immune system,” Hossain said. “I get sick when the weather changes rapidly.”

Some students don’t believe the flu shot helps them avoid the flu.

“I only get it if I’m required to,” biology freshman Marcia Rondonuwu said. “In high school, I was in a premed program. Because I volunteered at a hospital, I was required to get a flu shot.”

Despite some students’ claims regarding the flu vaccine’s inefficiency, UHS said it offers the vaccines in the best interest of the students. 

“We’re here to keep students healthy so they can perform well academically and in their personal lives,” Bell said. “Getting a flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu.”

A full schedule of vaccination dates, information about the flu and flu symptoms can be found at healthyhorns.utexas.edu.