Free flu shots available at Mercyhurst health center

It’s that time of year again. The season for sniffles, coughs and sore throats is upon us once more. The Mercyhurst College Cohen Student Health Center is here to help aid in the fight against sickness.

On Tuesday, Oct. 11, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. there will be an open clinic in the Egan Faculty Dining Room where free flu shots will be administered. No appointments are needed to obtain the shots on these days.

This is not the only time students can receive the flu shot. Appointments can be made for Monday, Oct. 10, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at the Health Center. There will be additional appointments available if needed after fall break.

Shots may also be given in January and February depending on remaining vaccine supplies.

The free shots are offered to all students, administration, faculty, staff members and trustees, as well as their spouses. The only exclusion is that children may not receive the vaccine.

It is up to each student to decide whether to get the flu shot. Some don’t deem it necessary.

“I don’t find it necessary for college students to have to get flu shots. I feel like that’s something that people of an older age need to worry about,” junior James Whitaker said.

Junior Aaron Loncki agreed.

“I have never gotten one, and I don’t think I need one. I haven’t had the flu in years and am not worried about getting it this year,” he said.

The injection includes a combined vaccine of three strands of the flu vaccine including two seasonal flu strains as well as H1N1, all in one shot. The strands protect against the most common viruses from the previous year.

The level of effectiveness of the shot depends on such factors as age and health status. The risks are few and entail slight redness or soreness at the area of injection.

An allergic reaction will most likely occur only if the recipient is also allergic to eggs. All of this information will be explained prior to receiving the shot.

By the end of the season in 2010, 565 shots were given to Health Center patients.

“I think the number will be about the same as last year. We start out with big clinics and then take individual appointments,” Executive Director of Wellness Judy Smith, Ph.D., said.

Flu shots are not the only reason people visit the Health Center. Many make appointments there year round for various illnesses.

“Appointments were more full than usual. Many have been coming for strep throat, upper respiratory stuff and stomach bugs. On average we have been seeing about 15 people a day that come for a doctor’s help and to possibly receive an antibiotic,” Smith said.

People seem to get sick around this time of year from being in such close quarters. However, there are ways to prevent these diseases.

The best advice is to get enough sleep and keep a healthy diet. In addition, people need to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently throughout the day to avoid getting sick.