UTM’s Health and Counselling Centre launched its annual flu immunization clinics last week, the first two of four vaccination clinics scheduled this flu season. The clinics provide all UTM students with the convenience of on-campus immunization by a registered nurse.

“The flu vaccine is the single most effective way of preventing or attenuating the effects of seasonal influenza,” said Chad Jankowski, the HCC’s acting assistant director. “It helps protect those who get vaccinated, but it also helps limit the spread of flu virus to others, including those who are at a greater risk for flu-related complications.”

Launched on November 5 at the UTM Student Centre, the first clinic saw 150 students receive immunizations. In previous years, the program has averaged approximately 300 immunizations per year. “[The] turnout at our first flu clinic was greater than anticipated,” said Jankowski. “Last year, we administered between 100 and 125 vaccines in a six-hour period. At Tuesday’s flu clinic, we vaccinated 150 students in only four hours.”

The HCC’s procedure takes approximately 20 minutes and includes a consultation with a registered nurse to cross-check possible issues in the administration of the vaccine.

Syed Omar, a master of biotechnology student, explained that his choice to use the immunization service was based on his studies examining the effectiveness of the flu shot. “The flu shot reduces the stress on our health care system,” noted Omar.

Second-year student Aidan Simardone stressed the convenience of the campus clinics. “It makes it a lot easier for me,” said Simardone. “I’m just not aware of where else to get it.”

“About 25% of students report that suffering from a cold or the flu has negatively affected their academic performance,” said Jankowski. “We want our students to stay happy, healthy, and well, and getting the flu vaccine helps protect the students immunized as well as the people around them.”

At the principal’s town hall on October 21, one faculty member asked Mark Overton, UTM’s dean of student affairs, why the clinics were only available to students and not faculty or staff. Overton directed him to the HCC, saying it was not a student issue.

The two remaining flu immunization clinics will be held in Oscar Peterson Hall on November 20 from 12 to 4 p.m. and at the HCC on November 22 from 1 to 4 p.m.