By Simon Rollins, Staff Writer
The Farmington Student Health Center is proceeding with efforts to minimize the harmful impact of influenza this season by offering students, staff, and faculty six separate flu vaccination clinics. In various locations around campus, UMF community members can find influenza shots provided for no charge with proof of health insurance or 20 dollars without insurance.
UMF Senior Brittney Torroni, who strives to get vaccinated each fall, will likely journey to the Health Center adjacent to Scott North in the coming weeks. Hustling through a full load of classes plus an internship, Torroni’s schedule does not provide time to visit one of the vaccination clinics. “I’m too busy,” Torroni said, “I have nothing against getting it. I just don’t have the time.” Student Health recognizes this issue many students share. Lisa Lisius, a full-time on-campus R.N. said, “It’s certainly possible to come in through the Health Center and get it here.”
Student Health is attempting to make the vaccine easily accessible to all students, hoping that convenience will drive up community participation. “The key thing about vaccines is, really, they are most effective if everybody does get vaccinated,” Dr. Jean Doty said. “The more people that are vaccinated and protected, then the less likely you’re going to have a problem.”
Lisius states that only about ten percent of the student population receives an annual flu shot through Student Health, and if the UMF community is in tune with the nation, only an additional 40 percent of students get the flu shot elsewhere.
Dr. Doty speculates that reasons for low numbers in vaccination are hollow. “I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about vaccines,” she said. “They just give you a weakened form of this virus and your body goes ahead and responds to it like it’s the real thing and builds up this immunity. So that when you’re actually exposed to the real virus your body’s already prepared to fight it off.”
Time is a deterrent for many community members, but there are also those who make the conscious decision to avoid the vaccine. Sophomore Emma Duggan is aware of the vaccine’s availability on campus, but chooses to abstain from receiving the shot. “The flu shot is basically just a guess of what is going to be the flu this year,” said Duggan, “I haven’t gotten a flu shot in years and haven’t gotten the flu.”
Dr. Doty feels that community mindfulness is a quality students and staff should consider this flu season. “There are people in the community who can’t get vaccinated so by you getting vaccinated, you minimize their risk of getting sick and dying from complications. And I think that’s the piece that people don’t understand,” said Doty.
The specific whereabouts and times for upcoming clinics are: Mantor Library on Tuesday, October 27 from 2:00-4:00, the Education Center on Wednesday, November 4 from 11:30-2:00, and Mantor Library on Friday, November 20 at 1:00. Receiving the vaccine directly from the Health Center as a walk-in patient is also an option.