The Wellness Centre helps students stay healthy this flu season

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The wellness center at Wilfrid Laurier University will be holding their annual seasonal flu clinic at the student development center.

From Nov. 15 to Nov. 16, as well Nov. 21, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., the flu clinic will be open to all students and free for anyone with provincial health insurance or UHIP.

Karen Ostander, director of the Student Wellness Center and registered nurse, explained how the influenza vaccine is researched.

“Every year the way they sort of formulate the vaccine is that epidemiologists [look] at the type of influenza circulating globally; influenza is a virus and it can migrate or change as it circulates in the community,” Ostander said.

According to Ostander the easiest way to prevent to the spread of the flu is not only by getting your vaccine but by washing your hands regularly and especially before you eat as well as staying home if you are sick.

“What the epidemiologists look at it is the way strains are circulating and [they] try and predict the ways it’s going to be impacted in the next flu season,” Ostander said.

The flu shot is administered intramuscularly and is not a live vaccine. A live vaccine is when there is a chance of your getting the virus from the vaccine.

“[The flu shot] stimulates the immune system to produce anti-bodies against the strains of influenza that are in the shot so that if you become exposed later in the flu season your body will recognize the [virus],” Ostander said.

“It takes two weeks for full protection to develop and it’s about 80 per cent effective [on] the overall population,” Ostander said. “It will take around two weeks for that full immunity to build up, then produces the anti-bodies so you don’t get ill from it.”

The wellness center is holding their clinics to encourage students to receive the flu shot in order to help stop the spread of infection.

“On campus, we are holding immunization clinics downstairs [of the Fred Nicholas center] in the health and development center that is located across from the dining hall.”

“The vaccine can also be obtained after that in the student wellness center but the [process] is less likely to be as efficient [unless] done in one of our clinics you can book an appointment online but there is also room for walk ins,” Ostrander said.

Ostander explained that the purpose of the vaccine is not only to protect the individual but to protect those in the community that the flu could potentially be fatal to.

“Influenza is an illness that can cause anywhere between 4,000 to 8,000 deaths in Canada each year the people that it impacts the most are the people who are immune compromised or their immune systems are less robust,” Ostander said.

“The way immunization works is by protecting the herd, so we do encourage even people who are otherwise healthy and might not be killed by [influenza] to get immunized to help protect all those people who are vulnerable,” Ostander said.

According to Ostander the easiest way to prevent to the spread of the flu is not only by getting your vaccine but by washing your hands regularly and especially before you eat as well as staying home if you are sick.

“One of the best ways to prevent infection is by washing your hands especially before you are going to be eating something because basically what we end up doing is ingesting those viruses – and the flu virus is everywhere,” Ostander said.

“In the university [setting] there is a lot of people packed into a small place so those sorts of viruses tend to spread very easily.”

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