With flu season approaching, Elon University is expanding its preparations to keep students healthy.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, flu outbreaks can happen as early as October. The center recommends that everyone older than six months get vaccinated to protect against the illness.
Jana Lynn Patterson, associate vice president for student life and dean of student health and wellness, said the university is planning to offer flu shot clinics for students on campus this fall.
Student vaccines will be administered from Midtown, a Whitsett-based pharmacy, and students can pay with their own health insurance. Faculty and staff will have separate vaccine clinics that align with the university’s health insurance.
Elon has offered flu vaccines in past years and administered about 500 during the 2014-2015 school year.
“We’d like to increase that number,” Patterson said. “The CDC says that — in addition to hand washing and normal prevention procedures — vaccines are the best way to prevent the flu.”
One effort to increase student participation is expanding the hours and locations for the vaccine clinics.
“We are trying things differently this year, with some in the evenings and on weekends,” Patterson said. “And we’re not only doing it in Moseley, but also in the residential neighborhoods. I hope it will increase the number of students getting flu shots.”
But some students are choosing to forgo the vaccine. Senior Zach Wellman said he won’t get a flu shot, even if the clinics are at convenient locations.
“I never really have gotten them,” Wellman said. “I usually have a really strong immune system, so it wasn’t worth it.
On the other hand, junior Dan Griffin said he’s getting a vaccine after having the flu two years ago. He said he prefers the on-campus flu shot clinics to alternative locations.
“I used to go to the doctor at home, which is a process,” Griffin said. “I can show up wherever they have them on campus and get one.”
Off campus, local pharmacies offer flu shots, including the Target and CVS on the University Drive BioBus route.
Besides vaccination, Patterson’s department is encouraging students to take other preventive measures. It will display information about these habits on posters and digital boards across the campus. The department is also planning to set up a table in Moseley to distribute information about the flu.
Patterson plans to start getting the word out in October because the vaccine is designed to protect people throughout the flu season.
“I would encourage students that they do come ahead and get a vaccine,” Patterson said. “I don’t like when students don’t get vaccines and get sick around exam times or in January or February.”
According to Arlinda Ellison, public information officer for the Alamance County Health Department, the flu season in the county usually peaks in January. The department operates under guidance of both the CDC and the state health department and urges residents to get vaccinated.
“We encourage them to get the shot, especially older people, kids and people with compromised immune systems,” Ellison said.