Pat Walker Gears Up for Flu Season
The Pat Walker Health Center has started administering flu vaccinations in preparation for the long flu season ahead.
“So far, more faculty and staff have come into the immunization clinic for a flu shot than students,” said Mary Alice Serafini, director of the health center. “But students usually don’t start coming in until they start seeing it on the news that the flu season is getting bad.”
The health center began giving walk-in immunizations Oct. 5 and they will continue to give the flu vaccination until they run out, Serafini said.
Last year was the first year UA provided walk-in clinics, Serafini said.
“We get our vaccinations in early September from our contracted manufacturer and this year we received 24,000 vaccinations but we can always get more if needed,” Serafini said.
Private manufacturers produce flu vaccines, and UA receives their vaccinations from GlaxoSmithKline, Serafini said.
The Cost for students is $10 for a flu shot and $25 for the Flu Mist, a spray immunization. The cost for all other eligible individuals is $20 for a flu shot and $35 for Flu Mist, according to the Pat Walker Health Center website.
Flu Shots use inactivated viruses and are designed to provoke the immune system to attack antigens found on the surface of the virus. Antigens are foreign molecules that the immune system specifically recognizes as alien and targets for attack. The nasal spray-type flu vaccine uses a live, weakened virus instead of a dead one like the flu shot. The vaccine helps support the specific immune factors in the mucous membranes of the nose that fight off the actual viral infections, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At Walgreens, a flu vaccination costs $31.99, an associate said.
Walmart flu vaccinations will cost about $25, according to their website.
Serafini attributed the lower cost of the flu shots to a fee students pay at the beginning of the term.
“Students pay $7.25 per course hour towards the health fee, which is why the price is so low,” Serafini said.
Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May, according to the CDC.
“We see a lot of cases of the flu after winter break,” Serafini said.
During 2009 and 2010, flu activity peaked twice because of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Activity in the United States peaked once in the Spring, when the 2009 H1N1 virus first emerged, and again in October, when the country went through its regular flu season. The CDC is considering October to be the peak of the 2009 through 2010 season.
“We constantly teach respiratory hygiene and after the H1N1 epidemic we noticed more faculty and staff became more cautious about contagion,” Serafini said.
The 2011 through 2012 flu season set a new record for the lowest and shortest peak for influenza-like-illness, according to the CDC.
The Flu Vaccine does not protect against non-flu viruses that can cause cold and other respiratory illnesses, according to the CDC.