University ends free flu shot clinics

GW students without the Student Health Service health insurance will once again have to pay for influenza vaccinations. Following the swine flu epidemic on campus last fall, the University administered both the swine flu and regular flu strain vaccinations free of charge to all GW students, faculty and staff. This year, however, those without the SHS health insurance plan must pay $10 for the vaccination, said Dr. Isabel Goldenberg, director of SHS.

Vaccinations will be available beginning Oct. 20 and Oct. 28 in the Marvin Center. The vaccines will also be available on the Mount Vernon Campus Nov. 2, and Nov. 3 at SHS’s office.

Last year, fear of the seasonal flu and H1N1 gripped campus as the school year began. Dozens of influenza-like cases had been reported only days into the fall semester. Two weeks into the fall semester more than 200 cases of influenza-like illness had been reported to SHS, and at the time, Goldenberg said there were likely many more students with flu-like symptoms who had not reported them.

Goldenberg said last week, however, that each year the influenza season is unpredictable, and there is a variance in how severe it is and in how many people are affected by the disease. Goldenberg advised all students to get the flu vaccine this year, whether or not the flu season is expected to be mild or severe.

“It is important to inform our students that the flu could be a serious disease and getting immunized is the best step in preventing it,” Goldenberg said in an e-mail.

Not many students, however, have expressed interest in getting a flu shot this year, a stark contrast to the thousands who lined up at influenza vaccination clinics set up by the University last year.

Sophomore Danny Rice said he hoped the University would offer vaccinations for free like last year, believing the vaccinations are something most students should take advantage of.

“I have yet to hear a compelling argument against getting a free flu shot,” Rice said.

But freshman Andrew Niemczyk said he will be getting a flu shot in order to avoid getting sick and missing classes.

“I was looking online to see if the school would be offering flu shots. I’ve always gotten them in the past,” Niemczyk said.

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