The Daily Gamecock

USC offers free flu vaccines

Health center provides surplus shots to students, faculty, staff at no charge

The Thomson Student Health Center is offering the flu vaccination free of charge to students, faculty and staff. This initiative began after the center cut the price of flu shots in half in order to increase incentive for vaccination.

Nicole Carrico, a public relations and quality assurance coordinator for Student Health Services, said February is the prime flu month for campus, and there is a vaccine surplus in the health center. Carrico added that about 4,000 vaccines were ordered and that the health center is offering the remaining 1,000 for free.

"Anticipating we're going to see a huge amount of flu on campus within the next couple of weeks, it's important we get rid of the vaccines now," Carrico said.

According to an update provided by Heather Stewart-Grant, a Thomson Student Health Center lab manager, there were 94 positive flu tests in January 2011 at the health center, and five of those were positive for H1N1, also known as the swine flu.

Last year, two different kinds of flu shots were offered at the health center — the H1N1 flu vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine — while this year's vaccine is a combination that combats three different types of flu, Carrico said. She also added that last year, the facilities that provide the vaccine ran out, and in order to prevent a shortage this year, more were ordered.

"The whole response overall this year has been somewhat disappointing and slow at all the clinics so far, so we made [the vaccine] free," Carrico said.

Students, faculty and staff can get the vaccine without any cost from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Thomson Student Health Center without making an appointment. Evening clinics were also offered at the Russell House first-floor desk and will be held again next week on Monday and Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Wesley Mattingly, a third-year criminal justice student, took advantage of the evening clinic on Thursday. He said he usually works out six days a week and that exercise is supposed to keep him from getting sick, but he wanted to get a flu shot as an extra precaution.

"It was free, and my parents are sick right now," Mattingly said. "I don't want to get anything from them."

Amy Pacholski, a first-year early childhood education student, also got a flu shot at the Thursday evening clinic.

"It was free, and I feel like I needed to get one so I don't get the flu," Pacholski said.