Student Health Service strives to make flu shots more accessible


With the flu season fast approaching, The University of Miami’s Student Health Service is gearing up to stop the spread of contagious disease, and vaccinations are its greatest weapon.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that the flu results in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses each year in the United States, so the SHS is working hard to make flu shots more easily available and widely publicized to students.

SHS Health Educator Jeremy Garcia said the majority of students treated for the flu at the SHS last year had not received the vaccine. This year, Garcia said his team has worked with several partners within UM to help increase accessibility to vaccinations.

“It is vital that students receive a seasonal flu shot because it is by far the single most important preventive measure to protect themselves during the flu season,” Garcia said.

So far, the SHS has set up multiple on-campus vaccination sites in areas such as the University Green and the residential colleges. Students can also schedule an appointment to receive their vaccinations in the SHS building.

This year, new locations were added to the list of vaccination sites, including the Business School and the Eaton Residential College patio. SHS employees will also offer students flu shots at “Pancakes with Pat” events.

Freshman Georgia Wainwright said the SHS has done a great job making flu shots readily available to students.

“It’s swift and easy, and anyone who hasn’t gotten their flu shot should go get it,” said Wainwright, an advertising major.

According to the CDC, influenza activity begins to increase in late fall, peaking in the winter and carrying over into the spring. It is recommended that people receive their vaccination as soon as possible because the human immune system takes two weeks to produce antibodies in response to the flu vaccine.

“The majority of students treated for the flu at the Student Health Service last year had not received the vaccine,” said Garcia.

One of the ways in which the SHS has made an effort to improve student outreach is through social media. Students can tweet a picture of themselves receiving a flu shot to @UM_HealthCenter using the hashtag #UM_FLUSHOT for a chance to win a Starbucks gift card.

“We hope our initiatives will be successful,” said Garcia. “We support student-led efforts to promote and raise awareness about the importance of the flu.”

In conjunction with vaccinations, the CDC recommends that individuals utilize everyday healthy and hygienic habits to prevent the spread of influenza. These habits include getting enough sleep, washing hands regularly and avoiding hand contact with the eyes, nose and mouth.

To learn more about the significance of flu shots and how students can get vaccinated on campus, visit the SHS website.