As flu season is ramping up, the University of Connecticut is offering free flu shots through Student Health Services.
Vaccinations are available at flu clinics in the Student Union. Flu shots are also offered at Student Health Services on a walk-in basis Monday through Friday, with the exception of flu clinic days, according to Ellyssa Eror, the medical director of UConn Student Health Services.
The first flu clinic on Oct. 11 was a success, with 511 students vaccinated, Eror said. There are four more clinics being offered this semester, two in October and another two in November.
“The CDC recommends becoming vaccinated by the end of October for the 2018/19 flu season, but being vaccinated later still offers protection,” Eror said.
Aside from getting a flu shot, there are several other preventative measures students can take to protect themselves from colds and the flu. Eror suggested coughing and sneezing into a tissue, the arm or elbow, instead of into the hands, as well as frequent hand washing with soap or alcohol-based hand-sanitizers
“Avoid touching your eyes, nose – this can spread the virus from an infected surface to you,” Eror said.
It is also important to maintain good health, manage stress levels, get an adequate amount of sleep, exercise, eat a nutritious diet and drink plenty of water, which can all help prevent illness, Eror said.
Eror said it is important for students who are ill to self-isolate and stay home from work or school until symptom-free for 24 hours.
Another key prevention technique is to be able to identify flu symptoms if they appear, Eror said.
“Symptoms of the flu include fever, muscle aches, headache, cough and runny nose,” Eror said.
Students displaying symptoms should call the Student Health Services Advice Nurse at 486-4700 and select option 1.
Eror said it is very important for students with underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, to get vaccinated, as there is an increased risk of complications from the flu.
This year’s vaccines are better matched to circulating viruses. But even if the shot is not completely effective, it can still decrease the severity of symptoms, Eror said.
“It is also important to remember that it can take two weeks after the vaccine to develop protection from the flu virus,” Eror said.
Getting a flu shot not only protects the vaccinated individual, but also protects everyone around them, Eror said.
“When 80 percent or more of a population is vaccinated for influenza, their immunity can essentially protect the 20 percent of the population who are not vaccinated,” Eror said.
This “herd immunity” means that individuals unable to receive a flu shot can still be protected, Eror said.
“Getting a flu shot is just another way you can protect yourself and protect our pack,” Eror said.
Natalie Baliker is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .