Health services recommends students get flu, vaccination shots as midterm season continues

With the annual UBC flu immunization campaign underway this week, UBC’s Student Health Service (SHS) is encouraging students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated.

For students new to UBC, the first midterm season can often be a very stressful time. As they’re beginning to settle in, they’re thrust into a period of limited sleep, irregular diet and extended study in enclosed spaces — a combination that could weaken the immune system.

“What we sometimes see in students starting university is they're living in residence, they're in big lecture halls, they have travelled from a different location and they're exposed now to a series of viruses that their immune system hasn't been in contact with before,” said Dr. Marna Nelson, the current director of SHS.

She also warns community members to take the flu seriously, as its effects vary depending on the individual’s immune system.

“So some people can have a very mild flu, some people can have terrible flu and a few unfortunate individuals can actually die from a flu,” said Nelson.

With the current campaign, community members can get vaccinated free of charge at various immunization clinics around campus, even if they are recent arrivals with a pending enrollment in BC’s medical services plan (MSP).

In particular, SHS and UBC Risk Management Services will be offering shots on a first-come-first-serve basis on October 24 to 26, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Nest. Community members can show up, answer a brief screening questionnaire, get vaccinated and leave after a 15-minute observation period to safeguard against any adverse reactions.

SHS will also be providing vaccines through its Nurse on Campus program from October 29 to November 1. Just like the clinics at the Nest, they’re free of charge and don’t require MSP enrolment.

For those who are interested in the program, SHS nurse team lead Kate Kinloch added that it’s safe to get the vaccine even if someone’s experiencing mild cold symptoms. Those experiencing a high fever may be advised to wait a few days before getting a shot.

Beyond the flu

Immunization efforts at UBC also extend beyond the annual flu vaccination campaigns.

After recent measles exposure incidents in Metro Vancouver, SHS advises students to make sure their vaccinations are complete and up to date.

“Not to be alarmist, because we don’t have an outbreak right now, but there’s nothing wrong with international students getting ahold of their vaccine records because it’s not just measles, mumps and rubella (MMR),” said Nelson. “Have they been vaccinated for other things as well?”

Students interested in obtaining immunizations through SHS can book an appointment to discuss their case and vaccinations are provided free of charge.

“You’re not just helping yourself, you’re helping your community,” said Kinloch.