UHS steps up services for flu season

By Mitchell Scuzzarella

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To combat Influenza in the Amherst area, University Health Services (UHS) at the University of Massachusetts has a number of ways to bring immunization to students, including Mobile Flu Clinics, which offer the flu shot in various locations around campus.

Josh Kellogg/Collegian

Last year, as the winter season rolled around and students found themselves in danger of contracting Influenza, better known as the flu, UHS coordinated with UMass nursing students to bring the Mobile Clinics to their already offered immunization office.

The Mobile Clinics bring vaccinations closer to students and aim to make the flu shot more accessible.

Ann Becker, a Resident Nurse in charge of flu shots at UHS, said she sees the threat of the flu as a very real and active threat to students on campus.

“Students often feel invincible, but anyone can catch the flu and at the very least this can be disruptive to a semester,” Becker said.

Every year thousands of people die from the flu and even more are hospitalized, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). According to their website, children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with medical conditions such as asthma are at a much greater risk of complications if the virus is contracted.

For college students, close living quarters can lead to an increased risk of contracting and spreading Influenza, said Becker, who added that flu shots are in a way, a civic responsibility.

While the flu may not be enough to cause serious harm to the vast majority of the campus’s healthy student body, the fever, chills, and aches of the flu could put a damper on any student’s work ethic and ability to keep up with the fast pace of college life.

Becker said that there are a number of secondary benefits of flu vaccines.  If more students protect themselves from infection, it in turn reduces the overall spread of infection to others, making the flu shot a kind of “community immunity,” as Becker puts it.

The vaccinations will be available Oct. 23 in Webster lounge, Oct. 30 in the Van Meter lounge and Nov. 13 in the Rec Center Meeting Room from 3:30-6:30 p.m.  The clinic is also available Tuesday, Nov. 6 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. in Berkshire Dining Commons.

While the number of reported infections at UMass so far has been small, the numbers, according to Becker, are sure to pick up as the season moves forward. She said that UHS urges UMass students to “get vaccinated today.”

Mitchell Scuzzarella can be reached at [email protected].