Photo by Brenda Lin

Stamps Health Services has begun providing free flu shots for students. October is halfway over, and according to the Nursing Manager Debbie Spillers, the flu season spans from the end of November to February.

“The best time to take the vaccine is now before the flu season starts,” Spillers said.

According to Spillers, it is also important that people take flu shots year-to-year, since the formula is changed every year in response to what strains are common or expected to be that common that year. The vaccine is a preventive vaccine which means that students need to get the vaccine before they actually catch the flu for it to be effective. The vaccine takes about two weeks to integrate into the system and start taking effect.

Another reason Spillers gives for taking the vaccine promptly is that having the flu can be detrimental to academic performance. According to Spillers, having the flu can affect you anywhere from three days to 10 days. During this time, missing classes can have a significant impact on a student’s performance and may cause them to fall behind. Therefore, Stamps Health recommends that get the vaccine to avoid such scenarios.

“A lot of college students live in dorms and other closed quarters, and so it is important that they get the vaccination since the flu spreads primarily by coughing or respiratory droplets,” Spillers said.

The shots are administered in the Allergy and Immunization Clinic in Stamps Health Services on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The shots are also administered in either one of the four flu clinics which are scheduled for Oct. 7, Oct. 21, Oct. 28, and Nov. 4. These will be also be in the Stamps building in the second floor classrooms. The final option to get vaccinated is to get it along with other appointments that you have in the Clinic.

“The vaccine is free for students and $25 for faculty and staff,” Spillers said.

According to Spillers, there is no danger of catching the flu from the vaccine.

“It is an inactivated vaccine,” Spillers said. “You cannot catch the flu from getting this vaccine. It is a deadened virus.”

The vaccine is generally safe, but one safety issue exists for those who are allergic to eggs. People who are allergic to eggs or can’t eat eggs should not get the flu shots because the vaccine is grown on an egg medium. In addition, those who already have a fever or bad cough cannot be administered the vaccine.

In addition to being vaccinated, Spillers recommends that students observe sanitary behavior. Stamps Health recommends that students regularly wash their hands and keep them away from the nose and mouth. Stamps Health also recommends that students keep their hands away from communal surfaces such as doorknobs and stairwells and keep their distance from those who have the flu.