Throughout November, the Student Primary Care Clinic has set up stations at various on-campus locations to provide students, faculty and staff with flu shots.

“[The vaccine] is a public health service,” said ichael Relf, a faculty member of the School of Nursing and Health Studies and one of the volunteers administering the vaccine. The flu vaccine is free for all students and carries a $15 surcharge for faculty and staff. The last two stops on the round-campus vaccination tour will be in the Village C Lounge next Monday and Tuesday (Nov. 18, 19) from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The flu season, traditionally starting at the middle or end of November, has the potential to disrupt the day-to-day functions of the university by attacking our health. The flu, or Influenza, is caused by an air-borne virus that could spread easily throughout campus. A residential community, such as a university, where the majority of the student body lives in high-density living conditions, is quite susceptible to an outbreak. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that people living in residence halls or under other crowded conditions get vaccinated to prevent outbreaks.

Relf described the process as quick, safe and efficient. It is organized on campus by NHS faculty and student volunteers. It takes five minutes or less with a 10-minute recuperation period, where the vaccine recipient receives quick medical attention in the unlikely event of a negative reaction to the vaccine.

The vaccine, made from chicken eggs, is safe, and side effects may include fever and soreness, swelling or aches in the arm where the shot was injected. These side effects, however, subside in one or two days. Nurses check with students to make sure they are not allergic to chicken, eggs or feathers.

Although the line for the vaccinations is never long, previous sessions, lasting only a few hours, drew approximately 250 students. Since the flu shots are free, the precautionary measure seems wise to many.

“I don’t have time to miss classes and get behind,” Sylvain Mansier (MSB ’05), who got the flu shot, said. The flu carries a potential for a fever, cough, sore throat, chills, head and muscle aches. Barbara Kell, a nurse practitioner, recalls an incident a few years ago when the flu broke out in the middle of exams – an unpleasant scenario any student would rather avoid. Thus the immunization program, available at Georgetown for several years, became dramatically more popular. Last year, over 4,000 students received the flu vaccine, a phenomenon associated with the anthrax scare. “Students just wanted protection against something,” Kell said. This year, to make the protection against the flu more available to students, the flu shots are being given at various locations.

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