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Ole Miss students, faculty and staff can get flu vaccine

 

Michael Newsom

University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi students, faculty and staff have several opportunities in coming weeks to get influenza vaccines, which health experts advise as a crucial protective step against an often underestimated illness that killed nearly 49,000 Americans in a single flu season.

The university’s student pharmacist organization, the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists, is giving flu shots through “Operation Immunization,” the group’s patient care project.

Student pharmacists will provide the flu vaccine on campus as well as education about the flu for students, faculty and staff. The vaccines are free to most employees with UM’s health insurance and only $35 for anyone without coverage.

The shot not only decreases the likelihood of the getting the flu for those who receive the vaccine, but also for those around them, said Jenn Miller, a second-year pharmacy student from St. Louis , is also chair of Operation Immunization. Many people don’t understand the seriousness of influenza, which many still confuse with the common cold, but it can be deadly, said Miller, who also is APhA-ASP secretary.

“Even in healthy college students, the flu can cause serious dehydration, which can lead to multiple missed days of class and even a visit to the hospital,” she said. “By preventing yourself from getting the flu, you are also helping to protect more susceptible populations, like the elderly, from getting the flu.

“The flu causes more hospitalizations and deaths per year than people realize, so it’s very important to get your flu shot this year.”

The shot is also the best option, even for those afraid of needles, according to this year’s recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the 2016-17 flu season, the CDC advises that the nasal spray flu vaccine, also known as the live attenuated influenza vaccine, should not be used. The recommendation is based on studies of the anticipated flu strains that project the nasal spray to have low effectiveness rates against them.

The CDC tracks influenza statistics and offers annual guidelines on the use of the vaccine for each flu season, which runs from fall through early spring.

CDC report  that analyzed flu deaths from 1976 through 2007 shows that during the 2003-04 flu season, 48,614 Americans died from influenza. The lowest death rate during that period came in the 1986-87 flu season, with 3,349 U.S. deaths. The flu also causes 200,000 hospitalizations in the United States each year, according to CDC estimates.

“The findings also indicated the wide variation in the estimated number of deaths from season to season was closely related to the particular influenza virus types and subtypes in circulation,” the report says.

Vaccinations will be given at several campus locations, including 1-5 p.m. today (Sept. 19) on the Grove Stage. More vaccination opportunities will be available through Oct. 26.

Faculty, staff and students should bring their Ole Miss ID and insurance card. Some students who have health plans that don’t cover the full cost may see the remainder added to their bursar accounts.

Here’s a list of the available opportunities to receive the vaccine on campus in September and October.

Sept. 19, 1-5p.m. – Grove Stage
Sept. 20, 1:30-5 p.m. – Residential College South main lobby
Sept. 21, 1-5 p.m. – Residential College South main lobby
Sept. 26, 1-5 p.m. – Lyceum, Room 110
Sept. 28, 1-5 p.m. – Turner Center lobby
Sept. 29,1-5 p.m. – School of Pharmacy main lobby
Oct. 10, 1-5 p.m. – Law School, Room 115
Oct. 17, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. – Student Union
Oct. 24, 1-4 p.m. – Student Union
Oct. 25, 9:30-11:30 a.m. – Law School, Room 115
Oct. 26, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. – Lyceum, Room 110