Every fall the University of New Brunswick hosts a flu shot clinic for the estimated 12,000 students attending UNB and St. Thomas University. According to UNB’s nurse practitioner, Stacey Taylor, only around 500 attend.
Taylor said she’d like to see that number increase. She said a lot of students have the flu but don’t know it.
“We see a lot of students who come in here with the actual flu – influenza, which is an upper respiratory infection. A lot of people think of flu as the stomach flu, like the vomiting and diarrhea, and that’s not it. It’s the fever, chills, aches.”
Flu symptoms start abruptly and last longer than the common cold. It usually presents with a fever and exhaustion.
“People are really sick, and they can be sick in bed for two weeks, missing school or work or whatever,” Taylor said.
“And then people get behind in their schoolwork, and then they’re really panicking – trying to get caught up once they feel better.”
Hannah Lynch, second-year STU student, experienced this.
“I had the 24-hour flu last year. I puked literally more than once every hour for 12 hours straight. I pulled an all-nighter puking,” Lynch said.
“I was really dizzy so I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even sit up in my bed.”
According to Health Canada, about 12,200 people are hospitalized each year in Canada because of the flu and it’s responsible for an average of 3,500 deaths.
The cost for the flu vaccine is $15 for students and $25 for faculty and staff, but Taylor said private insurance companies will often reimburse the patient for some or all the cost.
However, the vaccine is free if you live in a household with a child under the age of five or work in the healthcare sector. A full list of eligibility is available on the Government of New Brunswick’s website.
Anna Sirois, third-year STU student gets her flu shot every year.
“This whole campus, it’s just a hot-pool for sickness,” said Sirois.
The Aquinian interviewed STU students who preferred to remain anonymous and said they don’t get their flu shot because they don’t see it as a priority.
Taylor said the clinics are meant to encourage more students to take time out of their day to get the vaccine.
“We’d definitely like to see the uptake higher of the influenza vaccine.”
Flu shots will be available starting Oct. 24 from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. at UNB’s Head Hall. They are available until Nov. 8 at different locations around the STU and UNB campuses.
With files from Caitlin Dutt