Students, Health Services Brace for Flu Season

By Ji Kim
Elm Staff Writer

Junior Karli Newcity helps with this Tuesday’s flu clinic.

As flu season quickly approaches, Health Services is taking measures to ensure students are as prepared and healthy as possible.

This Tuesday, one of the regular flu shot clinics was held in the Hodson Commons Egg. Precautionary students were charged $15 to their student account for the shot.

“Our goal is to keep students healthy,” said Dawn Nordhoff, registered nurse practitioner and Director of Health Services and counseling. “We offer flu shot clinics to make it more convenient for students, faculty and staff to get their shot,” she said.

More than 300 students came in for a flu shot at this week’s clinic, a number which Nordhoff hopes to see rise in the future.

Health Services nurse practitioner Agnes Browne administers a flu shot to sophomore Kathryn Gilley at this Tuesday’s flu shot clinic. Gilley braved the needle in order to prepare for the winer season, but many students avoid taking this precautionary measure. - Photo by Erin Cooper

Senior Amanda Whitaker is a student worker with the health center. She got her flu shot at the earlier clinic.

Whitaker said she was a little nervous about getting what was her first flu shot in years.

“I know it’s going to be a busy year working on my thesis, so getting sick this year is definitely not something I want to happen,” she said.

Although reminder emails are sent to students about the clinics, turnout is still less than ideal. Many avoid getting a flu shot on the grounds that they rarely get sick, but Nordhoff said that, given the closeness of a college community, it is imperative that students take precautions.

She said the flu is a serious virus, one that can cause high fevers and pneumonia.

“Ideally, we would like to see at least 85 percent of the college population immunized against influenza. This provides what is known as ‘herd immunity’ and gives us the best chance of avoiding a flu outbreak on campus,” Nordhoff said.

Nordhoff said that most college campuses only have about 20 to 40 percent of students come in for vaccinations. Washington College falls in this range with about 20 percent of students coming in.

Although this week’s clinic is closed, Nordhoff said flu shots are still available by appointment throughout the semester.

1 Comment

  1. Director Nordhoff said: ““Ideally, we would like to see at least 85 percent of the college population immunized against influenza. This provides what is known as ‘herd immunity’ and gives us the best chance of avoiding a flu outbreak on campus.”

    The CDC says the flu vaccine is 50-70% effective in preventing influenza infection, in healthy adults under 65, in years when the flu shot matches the circulating strain.

    How can a vaccination rate of 85%, of a vaccine effective 50-70% of the time, provide “herd immunity?”

    The answer: It cannot.

    There are other great reasons to get flu shots (I get mine every year) — but “herd immunity” by vaccinating adults is not one of them.

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