By Cameron Ehring
At the peak of California’s influenza season, only a few dozen flu shots remained at Student Health Services as of Jan. 31, according to staff members.
Paula Cahill, a nurse practitioner at Student Health Services, said City College ordered 600 shots for this year’s flu season to give away for free on a first-come-first-serve basis, and 100 additional shots available for sale. All 600 of the free shots had been used before New Year’s, and at the time of this article, only 36 of the shots available for sale remained.
Until supplies are exhausted, the few remaining flu shots are available for purchase at $15 for students, and $20 for faculty and staff. Health care professionals say the vaccine is still the best way to safeguard against the virus, and it can help reduce the intensity of the symptoms if contracted.
Valerie Carlese, an industrial design student, was one of the 600 students who received a free vaccine last semester. She was initially wary of receiving the vaccine, but said “the nurses were sweet, patient and they explained the whole vaccine.” Valerie added that she plans to get another shot next flu season.
Last flu season, 480 shots were made available to the 70,000 students of City College at no cost, and according to Cahill, every last one was used.
Debra Giusto, chair of the registered nursing program, said a virus like this one can survive on surfaces for up to 24 hours. “It’s the simple things,” she said, “like handwashing and cough n’ cover” that will prevent disease from spreading. However, she warned that an aggressive virus can spread despite good hygiene practices.
Giusto explained how densely populated areas are hit the hardest during the progression of a seasonal flu, so areas like San Francisco will always be on high alert for the spread of infectious disease.
While some students may be tempted to reach for a bottle of antibiotics leftover from their last sore throat, Cahill cautioned that “antibiotics won’t work against the flu.” She recommends staying hydrated, getting plenty of rest, and getting a flu shot –even if you’ve already battled the flu this season.
Antiviral medication is sometimes prescribed for flu patients, but only if the infection is caught in its initial stages. Otherwise, anyone infected should stay at home in an effort to limit further spread of the virus. Health care professionals expect the flu to last on through February, and possibly into March.
Debra M. Guisto M.SN.,R.N
Director Department of Nursing
Paula J. Cahill
Nurse Practitioner @ Student Health Services
Industrial Design Student at CCSF