UHS seeks to improve campus health through flu vaccine campaign

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Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

Hundreds of students and faculty lined up in the Student Services Building yesterday afternoon to receive flu shots at the first temporary clinic of University Health Services’ annual flu vaccine campaign.

UHS will open temporary flu vaccine clinics around campus from now through mid-October to make the vaccine more accessible. In the past, the campaign has provided affordable, convenient immunizations to around 10,000 people each year, said Sherry Bell, UHS’ senior program coordinator.“We’re trying to take the clinics to where the students are,” Bell said. “The more people who are immunized, the safer campus is going to be from the flu.”

Charlotte Katzin, Allergy/Immunizations Clinic nurse manager, said the body takes about two weeks to produce the antibodies that protect against the flu virus, so students and faculty should make getting a shot a priority.

“Since we have confirmed cases of flu on the UT campus, it is important to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Katzin said.

A 2016 study conducted by UHS showed that almost 13 percent of student respondents suffered a negative academic impact due to colds, flu or sore throat in the year prior to taking the survey. Bell said UHS hopes this campaign can reduce the number of students who receive lower grades or have to drop classes for these reasons.

“UHS is here to help keep students healthy so they can reach their primary goal of achieving success academically,” Bell said.

Stephen Jones, a post-doctoral research affiliate who works in assistant professor Ilya Finkelstein’s lab, said he was able to persuade about a dozen other researchers from the lab to join him in getting vaccinated by using the opportunity to see Finkelstein’s newborn baby as leverage.

“A lot of people our age don’t think they need to get flu shots because they don’t get as sick, but if you’re around children, the elderly … it’s much more important,” Jones said. “I think this campaign is absolutely critical. There’s a certain threshold … if the effort’s too high, people aren’t going to get vaccinated. By doing things like this, you lower that threshold.”

Today, a clinic will be open from noon to 4 p.m. in the Texas Union Ballroom (UNB 3.202). To receive a vaccine, students should bring their identification and insurance information. If students’ insurance providers are accepted by UHS, the vaccine is free of charge. Otherwise, the cost is $10. 

A complete schedule of flu shot clinic times and locations can be found online at https://healthyhorns.utexas.edu/.