So far this year, there have been seven flu diagnoses at the Cox Health and Counseling Center, which, according to Associate Director of Health Services Kim Cullers, is very low. Approximately 650 vaccines were administered this year, and the remaining will continue to be offered through April.
When ordering vaccines, the Center estimates how many will be needed based on numbers from the year before. This year, because the manufacturer had a larger supply, the Health Center was able to place a second order after the supply from the preliminary order started to run out.
“I try to get enough that justifies the expense, provides vaccinations for everybody that wants it and still leaves us with a little left over,” Cullers said.
There are many reasons why students, aware of the potential health hazards of the flu, might still not get vaccinated. Cullers notes that some students are afraid of needles, do not believe in the effectiveness of the vaccine or have had bad reactions to previous inoculations.
Another potential barrier is the $18 price tag, which can be a particular deterrent for low-income students. Cullers stressed that the Center prices their flu shots in order to cover the wholesale price of the vaccine. When asked if making vaccines free or discounted might increase vaccination rates, she noted that while “very few [colleges and universities] I know of offer free [vaccinations], I’m open to any suggestion or opportunity where I can get more students vaccinated.”
Cullers also mentioned the severity of this year’s strain of flu, stating that there have been approximately 8,000 deaths so far this year, a number that will likely rise as flu season continues.
Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from the virus. “That’s the only line of defense right now, especially in a residential community where students are living together, eating together, socializing together,” she said.