USI urges students to avoid flu outbreak

James Vaughn

With a flu outbreak sweeping the nation, university officials are urging students to take necessary precautions to prevent it from happening on campus.

Dean of Students Angela Batista sent an email to faculty and students Wednesday welcoming everyone back for the spring semester and provided a list of tips to avoid “an anticipated busy flu season.”

“At this point, we haven’t had any official meetings about it,” Batista said. “But we are monitoring our students and we haven’t seen anything that would require us to take that kind of approach at this point.”

The list of tips included washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with sick people and avoiding hand-to-face contact.

“If a student gets sick, they should go to the Health Center and get tested because there are different strings of the virus that are happening across the country,” Batista said.

The most important thing to do is get a flu shot, she said.

“There is still time to do that and we encourage our students to do it,” Batista said.

Sophomore public relations major Ashley Knight said she’s worried because the number of deaths continue to add up every day.

“I think it would be difficult for USI to do anything preventative like require everyone to get the vaccine,” Knight said. “But I think they need to enforce something with faculty to keep students with the flu out of the classroom to prevent further spread of it.”

She opted to get the nasal vaccine, which is a flu vaccination, but not a shot.

“I’m not one to typically get the vaccine, or the flu for that matter, but this year I just had this pit feeling about needing to get it,” she said.

Local pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens, are running low on vaccinations.

The Walgreens on St. Joseph Avenue. was out for four or five days last week.

The need was so high they had to get a different manufacturer in order to keep up.

Pharmacist Artie Gateway said they are seeing 15 to 20 patients per day, up from the average of two people per day.

Both Walgreens and CVS accept health insurance.

Without insurance, the cost for a flu shot is $31.99.

Students can also receive vaccinations at the Student Health Center.

If they have an office visit plan, it’s free. If not, it’s $20.

Health Center Practice Manager Matt Winegar said there has been an increase in students wanting the vaccination.

“We’ve got plenty,” he said. “We get shipments in from Deaconess (Hospital).”