The Cox Health and Counseling Center ran out of flu vaccinations two weeks ago at the height of flu season, according to an email from Christopher Smith, director of the health and counseling center.
Smith said that the health center bases the number of vaccines they order based on last years numbers, and stands by the number of doses they ordered.
“There was no shortage or miscalculation. We made an informed decision regarding our order in March 2017,” Smith wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Traditionally we order between 400 and 700 doses each year. This particular year we ordered 600 and used all 600.”
Smith said flu vaccinations must be ordered several months in advance, which means that at the time of the order, the Health Center must try and predict the severity of the flu for the upcoming season.
“The Health and Counseling Center ordered and will continue to order flu vaccine based on several factors,” Smith explained in an interview with the Collegian.
These factors include the number of vaccines administered in previous years, the predicted severity of the flu season and the amount of media attention the flu receives.
When more people hear about the flu, the more people want to get vaccinated.
The College also takes into account its budget for vaccinations and growing number of off-campus flu vaccination options.
After considering those factors, Smith said, “it basically boils down to an educated guess.”
Smith also said that running out of flu vaccinations can in fact be a good sign because it means that the Health Center did not have to waste any vaccines or money.
The Health Center operates on a coordinated care model and has several off-campus partnerships that also provide the vaccine, such as the Knox County Health Department and pharmacies such as Kroger and CVS.
The Health Center has attempted to provide students with relief after contracting the flu.
“They were helpful because they gave me a flu test and so I found out I had the flu,” Ellie Melick ’21, who got the vaccine at one of the clinics held by the Health Center earlier this year, said.
“I didn’t have it that bad, so they just gave me cough drops and ibuprofen and a mask,” Melick said.
The Health Center also recommended students stay in their dorm rooms, avoid social gatherings and parties while sick with the flu and wear masks when they go to Peirce Dining Hall.