The seasons are changing, and with the change comes the flu. Last year it wasn’t just any flu — H1N1 (also known as swine flu) tore through Provo during winter, resulting in the death of a BYU faculty member. Health officials expect H1N1 again this year and urge everyone, especially college students, to get the flu shot.
The first wave of H1N1 hit the U.S. hard in 2009. Utah was affected with more than 300 hospitalizations and almost 50 confirmed deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control report.
“With most flus, typically the old and the young go through the funnel,” said Chantel Sloan, an infectious disease class instructor at BYU. “But this (H1N1) strain is hospitalizing and killing college-aged people, especially pregnant women.”
She urged students to get vaccinated even if they think they are safe, because they could become a carrier and infect others.
But with just 33.5 percent of the 18–49-year-old demographic getting the flu shot in Utah, it looks like BYU students need to rethink their health habits. Sloan said flu shots contain health officials’ best guess of the potentially prevalent strains this season.
“The flu shot should be (your) first line of defense, followed by hygiene,” Sloan said.
On a larger scale, the nation has taken several steps to increase the poor vaccination rates. Passport Health, one of the largest immunizers in North America, launched a website in August, called Flufree.com. The site answers commonly asked questions and lists locations where people can be vaccinated.
The vaccine this year is a quadrivalent vaccine, covering four different strains, according to a Student Health Center representative. It will cover H1N1, H3N2, the Massachusetts strain and the Brisbon strain. For BYU students, the Student Health Center provides vaccinations by appointment. The flu shot is free for those on the student health plan, but most insurances also cover it and normally don’t require a co-pay. There’s even a coupon for it in the BYU Planner.
Where to get a flu shot:
BYU Student Health Center: The flu shot is free for those on the student health care plan at the Student Health Center, located at 1750 Wymount Terrace. It is by-appointment only, and you can schedule an appointment in-person, online or by calling (801) 422-2771. The office accepts most insurance carriers and is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Provo Utah County Health Department Clinic: The Provo-based clinic is located at 151 South University Ave., but there is another clinic located in American Fork. It is a walk-in clinic. Its hours are Monday, Tuesday and Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The vaccines are available for individuals with insurance or who wish to pay out-of-pocket. For dates, times and locations, please see www.UtahCountyHealth.org/FluShots or search Twitter for #UtahCountyShots.
Other locations: The flu shot is also available at a host of local pharmacies, including Walgreens, Walmart, CVS Pharmacy and Smith’s Pharmacy. Most of these places allow walk-in, but call the closest one to make sure. Locations and hours can be found at flushot.healthmap.org.