UMass Health Services adds popup flu clinics as flu season hits

By Avery Thomas

(Collegian File Photo)
(Collegian File Photo)

In addition to bringing good weather, summer represents a time when people might worry less about seasonal illnesses. The common cold comes to mind.—or even worse: influenza.

“At the flu clinics we do not treat people who are ill; rather we administer flu vaccine to protect individuals and the community against the spread of flu,” said Ann Becker, University of Massachusetts Medical Reserve Corps unit director.

In fall, many UMass professors and students take precautions against one of the aforementioned illnesses. Mounting up defenses may seem like a daunting task now that the fall semester is beginning to heat up academically and socially. On Sept. 29 the first walk-in flu clinic opened at the University Health Services in room 302.

Becker, the public health nurse for the UMass campus, runs the flu clinics for UHS. “The clinics are staffed by UHS staff and College of Nursing  students,” she said. This means that vaccinations are administered only by individuals who’ve been trained to estimate the proper dosage for each student

Professors and students may require different treatments for flu prevention. “Different ages require different treatment,” Tom Roeper, a UMass linguistics professor, explained. It isn’t common knowledge that elder people require a higher dosage of an influenza vaccination than a younger student would.

Becker says that UHS staff are equipped to tackle that issue. Taking that into account, the walk-in clinics are no different from walking in for a scheduled flu-shot from your physician.

According to Becker, UHS has made influenza prevention available for a long time. “UHS has provided influenza vaccination for the campus community for many years as it is the best way to protect against getting sick with influenza,” she said. The new walk-in clinics are a way to access flu prevention in a timely fashion, since no appointment is necessary. This is more incentive for people who simply lack the time to schedule any visits.

According to the UHS website any students, faculty and staff along with their spouses and dependents are the primary recipients of all services, including flu prevention. For Ann Becker, making sure everyone on campus is in tip-top shape health wise is the number one priority.

From October to December, walk-in clinics will be open to the community in different places around campus. Upcoming clinics will be at the North Apartments on Oct 6 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., UHS room 302 on Oct. 7 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and the Commonwealth Honors College on Oct. 13 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m..

The clinics are spread around campus so they can be easy to reach for people living in any residential area. All upcoming dates for the clinics, along with their locations, can be found on the UHS public health page.

According to the public health page, the costs are billed to health insurance plans, so it is urgent that anyone seeking a vaccination bring their insurance plan’s identification card with them.

Avery Justice can be reached at [email protected]