by Sarah Willson and Dan Bates
In what is being regarded as the worst flu season in recent history, students at Central Connecticut State University are no longer able to receive flu shots or influenza tests this year.
According to the university’s Student Wellness Services, CCSU will not be providing flu shots or flu tests in 2018 and “must refer to local pharmacies or a personal physician.”
When asked the reason why CCSU would not be offering wellness services for the flu, the university refused to comment.
“That’s terrible,” Mike Couillard, a student at CCSU, said. “Especially if a student can’t afford that service on their own. The university should protect its students.”
The influenza virus has taken its toll on Connecticut this season; the flu has been classified as widespread for six weeks now by the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
CCSU resides in Hartford County which, according to the DPH, has had the most confirmed cases of any county in the state with 412 reports.
“I honestly don’t know what I’m paying for,” Taylor Muscatello, a CCSU student, said in regards to the university not offering the vaccine. “How can we not get help for the flu in the heart of flu season?”
Unlike Central, the University of Hartford, which is only 10 miles away from campus, offers flu shots for all students, faculty and staff, according to UHart’s Wellness Center. Although insurance is not accepted, vaccines and tests are $25.
Other state universities were reached out to for comment, but no response was heard.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), less than half of Americans get their flu shot per season. Still, individuals who do not receive the vaccine have a five to 20 percent higher chance of contracting some form of the virus.
Now, the DPH has found 1,342 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu between Aug. 27, 2017 and Jan. 13, 2018, with 615 of those cases resulting in hospitalization.
Despite this, some people refuse to get it due to misconceptions about the vaccine. One of the most common falsehoods about the flu shot is that it can make a person sick, the CDC said.
Mel Ortiz, a “Skilled Maintainer” for CCSU, said he chose not to get it due to this and “many other reasons.”
“I chose not to get the flu shot because I’ve heard and I’ve seen people both take the flu shot and actually get really sick,” Ortiz said. “I also don’t know what’s in the flu shot, either. If I knew what was in it, I might actually get it.”
Another CCSU student said she chose not to get the vaccine for the same reason.
“I just don’t like shots,” freshman Sarah Labbie explained. “People who get the flu shot are more likely to get the flu because the virus is actually going into them.”
Although those at the greatest risk of catching the flu are elderly individuals and infants, the CDC claims that anyone, despite their age or status of health, could be one of the 3,000 to 49,000 people in the United States who die as a result of the illness.
Regarding the 2017 to 2018 flu year season, the CDC claimed that, despite those who received the shot, individuals still only have a 30 percent less chance of contracting some form of the virus, compared to a 40 percent chance last season.
Symptoms of the flu generally include fever, chills, fatigue and dehydration. Public health officials and doctors have warned not to just assume these symptoms are that of the common cold.
“If people have a fever and difficulty breathing, they need to talk. It’s time to pick up the phone and talk to a doctor,” Doctor Matthew Carter of the Connecticut Department of Public Health said in an interview with Connecticut WFSB.
While the university is unable to provide health services to their students with influenza, the school does provide information on what to do if you get sick and preventative measures for avoiding getting the virus.
They advise that students who develop these symptoms stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care, as well as point to some antiviral medications that can help those who are sick get better, faster and avoid complications.
CCSU also points out small things that can go a long way in preventing the spread of the virus on campus. Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow, washing hands and using hand sanitizer and—for students who live together—frequently cleaning commonly-used surfaces can all help.