UHS flu shots draw students

As residential colleges host temporary flu-shot clinics for the first time, Yale University Health Services officials are noticing increased undergraduate participation in their annual immunization campaign.

Though statistics have yet to be released, YUHS director Paul Genecin said turnout so far has been good, and he hopes to have a well-immunized population come flu season. YUHS officials, as well as students involved with publicizing the events, said they have tried to make the clinics more accessible to students and increase undergraduate awareness of the clinics’ existence. YUHS has placed posters around campus advertising the clinics, and has encouraged residential college masters to e-mail students reminding them to get vaccinated.

A University Health Services staff member administers a flu shot as part of the office’s campaign to raise immunization levels on campus.
Rachel Engler
A University Health Services staff member administers a flu shot as part of the office’s campaign to raise immunization levels on campus.

Irving Ye ’07 , an undergraduate representative on the Yale Health Plan Member Advisory Committee, said he hopes the increased publicity will encourage students who might not otherwise receive flu vaccinations to utilize YUHS resources.

“[Our] Web site was recently upgraded to make it more user-friendly and easier to navigate,” Ye said. “YUHS is trying to meet the needs of the students and is always willing to help undergraduates.”

Genecin said YUHS expects to give between 14,000 and 15,000 shots this year to Yale students, faculty and staff members. The number of vaccinations given out at some sessions might exceed 1,000, he said.

Harry Guinness ’08, who received his vaccination at Branford College, said he found the process relatively easy. Bringing clinics to residential colleges has been beneficial he said.

“I feel it’s been fairly well-publicized,” Guinness said. “It’s fantastic that it’s in the colleges this year and I think more people are getting [shots] now.”

Additional flu vaccination sessions are planned through December and will occur throughout campus, in locations including the YUHS building, Kline Biology Tower, the law school and the divinity school. To receive a flu shot, students must attend a session and sign a consent form. But students can also contact YUHS to set up individual appointments if they cannot make it to a session. Unlike other years when demand for flu shots has exceeded the supply of vaccine available, Genecin said, this year shots are available to everyone.

Ten to 15 years ago, the vaccination was recommended mainly for people with a high risk of contracting the flu, including the elderly, young children, pregnant women, health care workers and those with diabetes, heart disease or lung disease. While flu shots are still highly recommended for these groups, vaccinations today are more widely recommended to everyone.

Marvin Thomas, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Ohio State University, said that while flu shots are not necessary for college-age students, they are beneficial.

“First, the shots help to cut down on the rate of transmission within the population,” he said. “Second, in preventing the flu, students are able to avoid time missed in classes and other activities while they treat the symptoms, which can last for weeks.”

YUHS has been reviewing the its immunization operations, Genecin said.

“A lot of universities have been working at getting the dorm population immunized, as everyone is thinking more about emergency preparedness,” he said. “Yale wants to have the capacity to immunize its population in the event of a more serious pandemic. In a certain way, it also acts as a drill or an exercise.”

A list of vaccination session times and locations is available on the YUHS Web site.

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