Members of the University of Richmond's Student Health Center have launched "Shake the Flu," a campaign to encourage students to get flu vaccinations and avoid being diagnosed with the flu this flu season.
Flu vaccinations will be available between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. from Oct. 25 through Oct. 27 in the Westhampton Center Hanging Lounge, said Chantelle Bernard, office manager of university health services. The cost for the vaccination is $25 and students have the option to charge the cost to their student accounts, Bernard said.
"Cash is welcome, checks are welcome," Bernard said, "but the student account is the easiest way if you're coming through [the Commons] and you don't have any money on you and you think you have to go back and get money. You don't have to do that. You can pay your bill later."
This year emails will be sent to parents to make them aware of flu clinic dates and accessibility of clinics to students and to let them know the cost of the vaccines can be billed to the student account, Bernard said.
The vaccine will also be offered in the Student Health Center, but it is encouraged for students to be vaccinated during the flu clinics held between Oct. 25 and Oct. 27, said Sarah Fisher, nursing supervisor of university health services.
"The clinic is a really efficient way to get a lot of people vaccinated," Fisher said. If students know they have a conflict with the flu clinic, they can call and make an appointment with the health center to schedule a vaccination, she said.
During the 2010-2011 school year, between 400 and 500 students were vaccinated, she said.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses, according to the Center for Disease Control. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue, according to the CDC.
Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May, according to the CDC.
Last year, 75 students visited the health center with influenza-like illness symptoms, according to a student health center log. This number does not include the number of students who did not call the health center or who were not seen by the Student Health Center, Fisher said.
The 2011-2012 flu vaccine protects against influenza A (H1N1) virus, influenza A (H3N2) virus and influenza B virus, according to the CDC.
The CDC recommends people get their flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available and before December because it takes about two weeks for the protective antibodies to develop in the body and to ensure protection before flu activity is at its peak.
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Students who do not plan to get vaccinated need to protect their immune systems by washing their hands, getting adequate amounts of sleep and eating well, Fisher said.
"With the flu, what's so hard is that sometimes you don't have any control," Fisher said. "When you go into a space where there are other people and they're coughing and they have the flu, the flu is easily spread. Other than getting the flu shot, it is a little bit harder to protect yourself.
"The flu vaccine is still the best way to prevent the flu."
Contact staff writer Sarah Bowers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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