The University's Health Services held its annual flu clinic between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. last Wednesday in the Granite State Room for students, staff and faculty. The clinic makes available a walk-in chance for students as well as faculty and staff to get their seasonal flu shot. The clinic worked in academic collaboration with the school's nursing department whose in-major students gave the vaccine to patients. The standard price for the shot was $25 with a $5 discount given to students who have paid their health fee. Eight hundred and fifty two shots were administered.
While the clinic was available to students, faculty and staff, there was a strong emphasis on students since there are other clinics that focus specifically on faculty and staff.
"Students are more susceptible to the flu and that's for a lot of different reasons," said Julia Stevens, community health nurse and wellness educator at Health Services. She cited lack of sleep and stress as two reasons to why students' immune systems might not always be up to par and why it was so important to get them access to the vaccine.
Normally the clinic is held in November, but was held earlier this year, according to Stevens, because the vaccine was very available early on. It was available earlier than usual since it was so similar to last year's vaccine: a "dead virus" combination of Type A, Type B and H1N1 influenza strands, predicted by epidemiologists to be the most common strand threats this year.
The use of dead virus, inoculated vaccines are common practice. However, since viruses tend to be classified by various circles of the scientific community as nonliving, an explanation of what is "alive" or "dead" when it comes to a virus is in order.
Professor Davida Margolin, who teaches "BMS 407- Germs 101" at UNH provided a more detailed explanation of the "dead" classification when dealing with viruses.
"Influenza vaccines are typically prepared from so-called ‘killed' virus, also known as inactivated virus," Margolin explained by email. "The virus is inactivated using heat or chemicals rendering them unable to replicate. However, the immune system is still able to recognize this inactivated virus and mount an immune response."
Margolin also explained that live viruses may also be used to create a vaccine, but are only used with what's known as a "flu mist" or nasal spray.
By creating a one-day clinic to make shots easy and accessible to students, Health Sources also provides trained staff that can help answer questions about influenza itself including whether or not it's possible to get the flu through the vaccine.
"There are usually no side effects," Stevens said of the inoculated, dead virus flu shots, with the occasional exception of soreness around the injection. "There's no way to get the flu through the vaccine."
As mentioned, the flu clinic is a collaborative effort between nursing department and Health Services. It is a requirement for junior and senior nursing majors to attend the clinic and take one of the two shifts. The experience allows for not only practice preparing and administrating vaccinations for nursing majors, but also allows for them to have additional practice giving blood pressure and blood sugar ratings, an additional option for those who received their vaccination at the clinic.
Aivry Jett, a senior nursing major, finds the clinic very beneficial in helping nursing majors practice in how to properly administer vaccines.
"Seniors were paired off with juniors to make sure they were giving shots correctly," Jett said. "It's a technique that when properly understood allows [nursing majors] to administer IM [intramuscular] shots carefully and effectively. After a couple of shots you gain this technique where you can relax your wrist that you can actually give shots to people and they don't feel it all."
Undergraduate CEPS freshman Liz Garvey and computer science graduate student Rohit Venugopal were two of the students administered shots Wednesday.
"It's better to get the flu shot than get the flu," Venugopal said. "It went pretty good and there was no waiting time."
"It was really pleasing," Garvey said. "I just didn't want to get the flu."
Vaccinations were left over and are available through Health Services by appointment at the rates previously mentioned. Health Services' main number is 603-862-2856.