By Stephanie Collins

After exhausted efforts to administer flu vaccinations to students last year, Eastern has turned the service over to Madison County Health Department.Last year, Eastern’s Student Health Services could not keep up a large enough supply of vaccinations, said James VanCleave, clinical operations manager.

“With the scare of H1N1, we ran out of our supply of vaccines,” VanCleave said. “By the time we had purchased more, it was too late and we had to dispose of them.”

So far, MCHD has not seen as big of a turn out. After setting up in the lobby of Powell this past Monday, nurses only provided the shot, which is now combined with the H1N1 vaccine, to 10 students in the four hours they were there. These students, according to Nurse Paula Hollon, were grateful for the service and acknowledged the importance of flu prevention. However, passers-by were weary and standoffish.

“Students who walked by avoided eye contact,” Hollon said. “Some even commented that they never get sick and therefore did not need to get the shot. We had a couple of fraternity students take notice of the situation and attempt to draw students in, with little reaction.”

Both Green and VanCleave found it ironic that students felt invincible to sickness, because they see a number of sick students each day in Health Services and at MCHD. In fact, VanCleave has even noticed an increase in students coming in sick this year.

“We just recently broke a record of creating new student profiles in one day,” VanCleave said.

“There is always a waiting room full of people,” Hollon added. “If nobody is sick, why am I seeing so many patients?”

In addition to believing that they simply just do not need it, students often have preconceived notions about flu vaccination. One scare shared by many is that the vaccine will make them sick, which prompts them to say, “Why get it?”

“You cannot get the flu from the flu shot,” Hollon said. “What happens is it takes two weeks for the vaccination to build immunity in the body.”

During this time, people sometimes come in contact with the flu, or they will have already come in contact prior to the vaccination. This is often due to getting the shot late in the season, Hollon said. This is why it is so important to act early.

The cost is 25 dollars. This might also play a part in the decline of students receiving the shot, considering they were not paying out of pocket for it last year. However, many students did not know that health services are included in tuition each semester. Also, insured students can have MCHD bill their provider. For students without insurance, Student Health Service offers different payment plans.

“Either way it is cost effective,” said MCHD spokesperson Christie Green. “Students are resistant to pay 25 dollars for the vaccine, but if they come in contact with the flu, they could miss up to two weeks of school.”

The next date that MCHD nurses will be offering vaccination is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 4 in the Powell lobby.

Contact MCHD at 623-7312 for more information.