While the government shutdown has affected the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio State’s Wilce Student Health Center still has flu vaccinations available for students, faculty and staff.
“It’s true that the CDC is kind of shut down right now with the government being shut down, and I know that is posing difficulty in terms of distribution of the vaccine, but we have enough here — we’re doing fine and we’ve got our flu programs scheduled throughout the semester,” said Dr. Mary Lynn Kiacz, the medical director of Student Health Services.
The U.S. government discontinued funding for federal services not deemed “essential” starting Oct. 1 after Congress failed to approve a national budget Sept. 30.
The federal funding cuts to the CDC will primarily affect the center’s weekly flu-tracking surveillance data known as “FluView,” which have not been updated on the CDC’s website since the shutdown. Flu vaccines have largely already been distributed and are not expected to be disturbed, according to a report by International Business Times.
The Wilce Student Health Center received a large shipment of flu vaccines, which it ordered over the summer from private suppliers, Kiacz said.
“Our supply trickles in over time,” Kiacz said. “We keep an ample supply in place and we also have access to borrowing from the hospital and we have a couple different suppliers that we use, so we tend to do a pretty good job. I don’t really anticipate any problems.”
Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs said there were 4,851 flu shots given to students, staff and faculty at the Wilce Student Health Center in 2012.
Isaacs said this year’s supply of flu vaccinations should match that of last year, but he does not know the exact number of flu shots available.
The Wilce Student Health Center Pharmacy has walk-in hours where students, staff and faculty can get a shot from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to the Student Health Services website.
Flu shots cost $25 but are free to students who have comprehensive student health insurance through OSU, Kiacz said, adding that students with private health insurance should check with their provider about whether or not the flu shot is covered.
Kiacz said even though the Student Health Center has been stocking up on flu vaccines, it is impossible to know how severe the year’s flu season will be.
“There is no predictability. You just have to dig in and see — so far it’s been pretty light, but again, it’s very early,” she said.
November and December are typically when doctors start to see markers of the severity of the upcoming flu season, which peaks in January and February, Kiacz said. So far, she said she has not seen any patients with the most common type of influenza.
Some students have already taken steps to stay healthy.
Kristy Adams, a first-year in biology, said she recently got her flu shot from the Student Health Center primarily because she feels she is at higher risk for becoming sick since she lives in a residence hall.
“Because I live (in) a dorm, it’s easy for disease to spread,” Adams said. “I also wash my hands all the time (and) eat healthy.”
Joe Smith, a fourth-year in linguistics and Latin, said he does not care to get a flu shot, though, because it’s not on his priority list as a student.
“I am not really a healthy person,” Smith said. “I’m kind of lazy, too — I can take NyQuil if I get the flu.”