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Flu shot supplies at Health Center limited, students encouraged to find shots elsewhere

The flu shot is at a premium these days.

Fewer than half of the vaccines ordered this year have arrived, and those that have are only being offered to a small number of students.

“As of the past Wednesday, (November 30) we received 100 doses out of the 300 ordered, and we were told by the supplier that we would not be receiving any more,” director of Student Health Services Judith Cocking said.

Cocking also said that half of the doses received were given out to the Korean nursing students because they are health care providers, and Eastern is their primary health care provider.

The fifty that remain are reserved for students with chronic health problems such as asthma, rheumatory arthritis and cardiac conditions.

In the past, the Health Center has offered the flu vaccines at the health fair. Walk-in hours were also available for students who were off campus on that day.

Flu shots have been more abundant in the past. In 2003, 100 shots were ordered and given out in this fashion. In 2004, 200 were ordered and given out, but there was a request for more, and 50 additional shots were ordered and given out.

Originally, Cocking was told by the supplier that the vaccines were being reserved for the elderly and people who are considered at risk. Later, she was notified by the supplier that the vaccine manufacturer was selling the shots to the highest bidders: Wal-mart, Walgreen’s and Eckerd, for example.

Cocking has been encouraging students to go to their own healthcare provider for the vaccines. Some students have reported being able to do so. Cocking suggested trying to get a shot over Christmas break.

She said flu shots are important, because the flu can last as long as seven to ten days with high fever, muscle aches and vomiting.

“There are people who say that they don’t want to get the shot because it gives them the flu,” Cocking said. “But it is a dead virus, so it can’t give you the flu.”

If a student does get the flu, the Health Center has 100 doses of an antiviral medication intended to treat the flu. It does not kill the virus, but decreases the symptoms and duration of the sickness. The Health Center is able to write prescriptions for the antiviral as well if the flu is diagnosed within the first few days.

More information can be found by visiting www.cdc.gov or the Health Center’s webpage.

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