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Dining Halls Welcome Annual Flu Shot Clinics

By William S. Flanagan and Jamie D. Halper, Contributing Writers

As flu season nears, Harvard University Health Services has begun offering its annual flu shot clinics in the College's dining halls.

The clinics have been organized with HealthPals, a peer health education group at the College that has worked with HUHS on the dining hall clinics since 2013, according to HealthPals president Paul M. Lewis ’18.

Lewis said the group will be hosting study breaks in Houses the night before their respective flu shot clinics in order to raise awareness for the immunization drive. The clinics offer only flu shots, as opposed to nasal spray vaccines.

For this year’s flu season, the Centers for Disease Control has recommended not to use the nasal spray for flu vaccination “because of concerns about its effectiveness,” according to its website.

“Our goal would definitely be to reach herd immunity, but that’s not likely to occur because some people are resistant to get a flu shot because of religious reasons or personal reasons,” Lewis said. “We’d like to get as many students as possible a chance.”

HUHS Director Paul J. Barreira wrote in an email that HUHS nurses will hold weekly clinics at 124 Mt. Auburn St. until mid-December, in addition to the dining hall clinics.

“Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) has a responsibility to help protect the Harvard community from infectious illnesses, such as the flu,” Barreira wrote.

At least 1,600 students were immunized last year in these clinics, with more estimated to be getting their flu shots from other sources, according to Lewis.

Yael M. Saiger ’19 attended a flu shot clinic in Dunster’s dining hall last year and said she was pleased with her experience. She recommended that other students choose to take advantage of the service.

“Since we’re all in close proximity, everyone’s health affects everyone else’s health,” she said.

The flu vaccine clinics are free to anyone with a Harvard ID. Upcoming clinics will be held in Currier on Sept. 28 and in Annenberg on Sept. 29. Other houses will host clinics throughout October.

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