Student Health Services Gears Up for Flu Season

After last year’s campus-wide swine flu outbreak — which affected more than 3,400 students — Student Health Services has stocked up on 6,000 vaccine shots in new efforts at preventing the H1N1 virus.

“We are very prepared this year,” Deborah Pinot-Shaballett, Director of Health Education, said. “We have vaccines on campus already which are available for free for students with SHIP [Student Health Insurance Plan].”

Jill Ballard, Director of Clinical Services,0 said that the shipment of vaccines that came in last week will cover “about 20 percent of the campus population.”

Though the doses are not enough to protect the campus, statistics provided by the Center for Disease Control show that while one-third of Americans receive flu vaccines, only 20 percent of Americans actually contract the flu.

Based on these statistics, the SHS has taken the upper bound by almost doubling the number of vaccines available last year.

“Last year, the county public health ran out of swine flu vaccines, so we didn’t get our supply until Thanksgiving,” Ballard said. “By that time, the demand wasn’t there anymore so only 3,400 H1N1 vaccines and 800 seasonal flu vaccines were given.”

This year, scientists developed a flu vaccine that covers the H1N1 swine flu strain as well as two seasonal flu strains, H3N2 and Influenza B.

This vaccine will provide coverage against all three types of influenza and reduce the risk of contracting a different flu strain, as it is more comprehensive.

In a video interview posted on UCSD’s flu prevention website, Dr. Rady Taplitz, clinical director for infectious disease at the UCSD Medical Center, explained the difference between the H1N1 flu and seasonal influenza strains.

“Swine flu is an Influenza A virus and is related to human influenza,” Taplitz said. “One of the features that makes it of concern is that it is a novel influenza to the human population. That means that the human population has not been exposed to this virus before and, therefore, no one essentially has immunity to this virus.”

Like last year, students will have a choice between the nasal spray vaccine and the injection.

The nasal spray vaccine contains a weak, diluted live virus and does not involve needles, though it is ineffective for people with respiratory problems or immune deficiencies.

SHS is also following the CDC suggestions on how to ensure effective disease control.

“CDC has advised everyone above the age of six months to be vaccinated against the swine flu, which is everyone on campus,” Ballard said. “Public health officials are still very concerned about the swine flu.”

In addition to preventative measures such as stocking up on vaccines, SHS has also established measures to deal with a flu outbreak.

This includes get-well kits that include a digital thermometer, non-aspirin fever reducers and cough syrup.

SHS is also continuing with last year’s Flu Buddies program, which will allow students to stay at home if they are sick.

“If a student is sick, arrangements can be made where a Flu Buddy can pick up medicine, food and drinks for the student,” Pinot-Shaballett said.

Flu vaccines will be available starting Monday, Oct. 4, and are scheduled on a walk-in basis.

The vaccines are free for students with SHIP and $15 for those who waived SHIP.

Readers can contact Anqi Chen at [email protected].

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
Our Goal