STUDENTS WANTING to prevent seasonal sniffles may have to adjust their plans: Student Health Services ran out of the flu vaccine at the flu shot clinic on Oct. 3, causing them to cancel the clinic planned for the following day.
The health center had ordered 70 doses of the vaccine, which ran out quickly on the first clinic day, causing them to send out a mass email informing students of the cancellation.
“The first day, boom, we went right through [the vaccines],” Bess Austin, Director of Student Health Service, said.
The clinic orders between 100 and 300 doses of the vaccine each year. However, this year they decided to order fewer because they have had less demand for the vaccine, presumably because students get it elsewhere.
“[Students] go to [Fred Meyer’s] to shop, and they can get it at the pharmacy,” Austin said.
Austin also mentioned that the severity of the flu on campus seemed to decrease in recent years.
“Last year it was pretty minor, actually,” Austin said. “We haven’t had a big year in a few years.”
The health center has ordered 20 more doses of the vaccine and intends to make them available by appointment. However, the doses are on backorder from the supplier and it is unclear when they will arrive.
“We don’t have them yet,” said Austin. “I want to see the vaccine, I want to have it in the clinic… and then we’ll put out ads.”
Some students who would have liked to get flu shots on the second clinic day will now have to go elsewhere or wait for the new shipment of vaccines.
Adaira Grohs ’20 wanted to get a flu shot but then received the email that the second clinic was cancelled.
“I generally get them every other year,” Grohs said of the vaccine. “I’ll probably end up going to Safeway [to get one] later in the year.”
However, some students were not benefitted by the clinic, such as Maya Crosby ’17, who does not have a lot of free time.
“It’s my schedule,” Crosby said about her plans to not get the vaccine. “Also, I have never really gotten them before. It’s not a high priority for me right now.”
The cost of a flu vaccine at the health center is $30. The center does not bill insurance but will provide students receipts which they can present to their insurer for reimbursement.
“There is an advantage to going to these bigger [pharmacies]: they’ll just take your insurance card,” said Austin. “[The pharmacies] are all about the same [price].”
For those who have been unable to avoid the flu, the health center provides flu tests and flu kits, which include hand sanitizer, ibuprofen and kleenex, among other care items.
“We have [students who have the flu] stay in their dorm room or wherever they’re living for 24 hours until after they’ve had a fever,” Austin said when discussing care for students who have the flu. “We can order antiviral [medication] for anyone who is high risk, or people who request it.”
The flu shot will have the greatest benefit for students who have chronic conditions that the flu could interfere with.
“I really recommend flu shots for people who have … any ongoing medical condition, or students who are on a lot of medication to keep inflammatory diseases under control,” Austin said. “[The flu] makes things way more complicated.”
Overall, prevention seems to be the best strategy for keeping Lewis & Clark healthy during flu season.
“I actually think prevention is huge in preventing [the flu] from coming on campus,” Austin said.