Student Health Services is launching a series of mobile flu clinics around campus in effort to help students and faculty get their flu shots. The clinic set up in the public health school Tuesday, but will move around to various college and school buildings until Nov. 5.
With flu season starting in October, Eric Tyler, a quality improvement registered nurse coordinator, emphasized the importance of students and faculty to get their flu shots.
"At a university, we're at close quarters, whether it be in a classroom or in the dorm," Tyler said. "One individual gets sick and normally, because of the close quarters, coughing, sneezing, handshaking, hugging, using telephones; whatever the case may be, breathing inside an elevator, it makes [it] more contagious for other individuals."
The flu vaccine offered this year is a quadrivalent flu vaccine, which means it protects against four flu strains. Tyler said it is safe for everyone to take, unless someone is already ill.
"It's not best to get any vaccine if you're already sick, and that's some of the questions that we ask," Tyler said. "Have you had fever? Chills? Been getting over something the last 24 to 48 hours? And if so then it's not recommended that you get it at that time."
Tyler said the biggest advantage of the mobile flu clinics was convenience for students and faculty.
"There are a lot of individuals who don't pass the Center for Health and Well-Being. They don't come to the Russell House, " Tyler said. "And if we can make it convenient for you, and you don't have to worry about taking away from class or with your class schedule, struggling to get to the Student Health Center.
Third-year exercise science student Mallory Cheek said the mobile flu clinic made it very easy for her to get her flu shot.
"I'm an out-of-state student so I don't have, like, a doctor that I go to here, and I know I can make an appointment at the health center, but this was super convenient and super quick," Cheek said.
Third-year exercise science student Stephanie McCrary said another advantage of mobile flu clinics is access.
"I think having it right outside of classrooms helps students remember to get their flu shot," McCrary said.
"I try to encourage all the people on our floor to do it," Sara Wilcox, an exercise science professor, said. "I think it does help to get the word out about the importance of the flu shot because you can get to see everyone kind of on the same day getting the shots, and there's kind of that social pressure to just get it done."
Tyler said a major advantage to getting the flu shot through the university and through the mobile flu clinics as opposed to other providers is cost.
"Students don't have to pay for flu shots; neither do faculty and staff," Tyler said. "We bill the insurance, but after that, then there's no out of pocket cost to anyone who gets the flu vaccine."
If students haven't filed insurance through the university, then they are able to at the mobile flu clinic or after they have received their vaccination. According to Tyler, even if a student hasn't filed a health insurance plan with the university or if their health insurance doesn't cover flu shots, they can still receive the flu vaccination.
"If your insurance doesn't cover it, you still don't have a cost," Tyler said.
The University of South Carolina is currently in a competition with other universities and can receive an award from Alana's Foundation for having high vaccination rates. Alana's Foundation was founded after the Yaksich family lost their daughter Alana to an extreme case of the flu.
"The more individuals that get vaccinated, the more protected the community is from the flu," Tyler said.
The mobile flu clinic is coming to Osborne next from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Oct. 15. The mobile flu clinic schedule can be found here.