University Health Services has recorded 292 flu cases this season — just under half the number of cases it saw during the 2017–18 flu season.
UHS, which provides medical services including flu tests for students and faculty at UT, saw 631 flu cases last flu season. Kathy Mostellar, associate director for clinical operations at UHS, said UHS expects the flu season to end two weeks after spring break.
Mosteller said this year’s flu vaccine, which was more effective than last year’s, was partly responsible for the decrease. She said it is common for more people to get their vaccine after a heavy flu season, such as last year’s flu season.
Mostellar said UHS gave 16,000 flu shots this flu season, up from 14,000 last season, although the center didn’t change how it operated.
“We didn’t do (anything differently) than previous years, but there was a greater request for flu vaccines,” Mostellar said. “Even this late in the flu season, there are some people that are wanting to get a flu shot.”
Julia VanDuren, a communication and leadership and advertising freshman, said she doesn’t usually get her flu shot. She caught the flu this year and said she sees the vaccine as taking a shot in the dark.
“I might get the flu shot next year,” VanDuren said. “But, it’s not like I’ll for sure get the flu shot now just because it’s not super effective.”
Mostellar said 77 people who tested positive for the flu this year said they had gotten the flu shot. She said people often hear about the low rate of effectiveness of the flu shot, and they think it won’t really help them.
“When you hear in the news ‘(the flu shot is) 50 percent effective,’ … that sounds like it’s 50 percent not effective,” Mostellar said. “For predicting the strains, 50 percent is not bad.”
Mostellar said people can prevent the flu by washing their hands, having good hygiene and avoiding sick people, if possible.
“But the number one thing is (getting) the flu shot and then cleaning your environment,” Mostellar said. “Flu viruses live for a while on inanimate objects.”
Undeclared freshman Lauren Blummer said she caught the flu virus this year.
“This is my second time getting the flu and both of those times I didn’t get a flu shot,” Blummer said.
She said she’s going to get her flu shot next year.
“It’s definitely worth it,” Blummer said.