Health Services, nursing students raise awareness about seasonal flu clinic
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 02:10
Getting an influenza shot is the most effective way to prevent contracting the flu.
This is according to a message broadcast across campus by members of a six-group project. These students are getting the word out there to raise awareness about the upcoming flu vaccine clinic, which will be held on Oct. 9 in the Granite State Room from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Students Rachael Friedrich, Spenser Hamer, Holly McCay, Mike Boden, Erin Spaulding and Alex Mazzola are working together in the Public Health Nursing Project (704P), a semester-long nursing class in which groups collaborate with community organizations. This group’s assignment is to work with UNH Health Services, which manages this year’s flu clinic, to promote the clinic via a campus-wide marketing campaign.
“The Health Services has a wonderful liaison with the academic department, especially with the nursing department,” Judy Stevens, the community health nurse for UNH Health Services, said. Stevens leads a committee that implements flu prevention measures and acts as the project’s sponsor.
The group emphasizes that the flu is highly contagious, and that the university lifestyle is a strong conveyer of the virus.
“College students are the most susceptible to contracting the flu because they’re usually so close together in dorms and classrooms, allowing for the flu to spread,” Friedrich said.
They also warn against misconceptions that receiving the shot will give people the flu and make them sick, rather than immunizing their body against it.
The flu shot, according to Hamer, is a “dead virus,” an inactive virus that allows the body to produce antibodies against infection.
According to Stevens, the vaccine administered will be Fluzone, a trivalent inactivated vaccine. Fluzone provides protection against three types of influenza epidemiologists believe will be prevalent this year: Type A (H1N1), Type A (H3N2) and Type B.
Stevens also said that student involvement in the flu clinic, which has been running for 18 years, has been around for at least five years. 56 students will be involved this year, with junior nursing students administering the flu shots in rotation under the supervision of professors and clinical instructors.
The group’s promotional strategy includes dividing campus into areas to target for advertising. They have relied heavily on emails, informational flyers, table tents, chalking and a new viral video on the Health Services website to get the word out. According to Friedrich, the group is also trying to arrange a possible interview with WMUR.
During the flu clinic, the group will conduct a survey of students who have received the shot. They will ask five questions, including how students heard about the clinic and why they chose to come.
After the clinic is over, the students will hold a second survey for the community at large, specifically to find out why some chose not to receive the vaccination. The survey aims to learn whether people are aware that the flu shot cannot spread the virus and to gauge student knowledge of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the flu.
The group said that last year’s marketing campaign was successful in effectively conveying information about the clinic through advertising and word of mouth. However, the clinic also experienced a lack of attendance due to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy late last October, as many students went home.
Stevens is confident that this year will see a big spike in student participation, due to greater accessibility. Students were originally charged for flu shots as a means to offset the costs of the program. As of last year, however, the shot is now available for free to students with five or more credits per semester who have paid the mandatory health fee.
Sameer Panesar, a contributing writer for The New Hampshire, also reported for this article.