Free Flu Shots Now Available to Salem State Students

By Jessica Freeman

Salem, Mass. Monday, Oct. 24, 2016 — A new school year means new classes, new friends, a new room and also… new germs? College, a time of new experiences and freedoms, can also be a time of stress, lack of sleep and other unhealthy choices. These factors can come together as the perfect storm for otherwise healthy and young people to get sick with colds and the flu.

There’s a simple way students can protect themselves this season though, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended, seasonal influenza vaccine.

Flu shots are available, completely free of charge, to Salem State students at a walk-in clinic on Mondays at 2 to 3 p.m. at Counseling and Health Services now through Dec. 12, or by appointment through your Navigator account.

A dosage of the 2016–2017 Quadrivalent Influenza vaccine is shown in Salem, Mass, October 24, 2016. The Quadrivalent vaccine is made up of four strains of the flu virus, two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses, that are predicted to be the current strains for the 2016–17 flu season. Photo: Jessica Freeman)

Kim Daly, associate director of Counseling and Health Services at Salem State University, stressed the importance of the flu shot as a preventive measure for all students, but especially first year students who live in the residence halls.

Daly said that freshmen live “with 500 other people” in close quarters and being exposed to lots of “new germs.” All students should get the flu shot, she said, and should not hesitate because of insurance issues. Flu shots are available free to Salem State students, and they will never be charged any copays or fees.

The CDC recommends getting the flu shot as soon as vaccines become available.

“The vaccine takes two weeks to take effect, so people should get it as soon as they can,” Daly said.

Daly also talked about how being sick with the flu is very different from being sick with a cold.

“When you have the flu, you’re down for the count,” Daly said.

The arm of a Salem State student is shown getting their annual flu shot in Salem, Mass, October 24, 2016. This student is one step closer to protecting themselves and others from catching the flu this season. Photo: Jessica Freeman

The CDC describes the flu as usually coming on suddenly. When a person has the flu these symptoms often include: fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches, tiredness, and other symptoms.

Daly also described the flu as causing people to be, “really sick for five to seven days” and that it could lead to students missing classes, jobs and other events.

Salem State student Cassandra Covney took part in the walk-in flu shot clinic at Counseling and Health services Monday, Oct. 24. Convey said she read about the clinic in an email. Convey said she has received the shot, “basically every year,” and this year follows that tradition. When asked why she got the shot Convey said simply: “It’s good to get it, and my mom told me to.”

In downtown Salem, Senior Chris Bennett said he was not aware flu shots were available for free at Salem State. Bennett has received the flu shot in the past and will likely do the same thing this year.

“I will probably just get it at my doctor’s office,” Bennett said.

So, whether at your own doctor’s office, or through Salem State’s Counseling and Health services, Daly and the CDC recommend the flu shot as the best way to prevent getting sick this season.

Daly also said she wanted to clear up a common myth: “The flu shot can’t make you sick.”

The flu shot is a dead virus, she said, and the point of the shot is to help the body create antibodies against influenza. The shot will also lessen the effects of the flu if you do get sick.

Daly drove home the idea that the flu shot is not only for you, but for other people in your community that are at risk for serious complications from the flu. Daly encouraged students to, “Think about other people who are immune compromised in your environment and are more at risk for developing pneumonia from the flu.”

In addition to getting the flu shot, there are many other ways students can prevent getting sick this cold and flu season. These include general good health practices like, washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and staying home when you are sick.

Be smart this flu season: follow Daly and the CDC’s advice by getting your flu shot. Or, if not because of the advice, and because it is free for students at Salem State, get it because your mom would want you to do so.

Flu shots are available free to Salem State students Mondays 2 to 3 p.m. at Counseling and Health Services, and by appointment. Or check with your local health care provider for appointments and availability of the seasonal influenza vaccine.