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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Beutel Health Center offers free shots throughout flu season

Photo by CJ Smith

Texas A&M student nurse administers a flu shot to a patient on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023 at Beutel Student Health Center. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

Free on-campus flu shots are available for students at A.P. Beutel Health Center for the rest of the flu season.

Students will not pay a fee for the shots, even if they don’t have health insurance. If they do have insurance, students must bring that information so the company can be billed, however. 

To schedule an appointment, students can go to the center’s website, click on the patient portal and follow the link to the home page. On the home page, under the reminders section, students can claim a time slot under the free flu vaccines bullet point.

Registered nurse Joscelyn Blevins, a coordinator with the nursing services at the health center, said receiving a flu shot is important for personal and public health benefits.

“Flu shots are relatively benign when it comes to side effects,” Blevins said. “There are very few effects compared to what they do for the public at large when we have a good number of people who get vaccinated.”

The flu can last for four to seven days, so college students becoming ill can negatively impact their academic performance, Blevins said.

“Just being down and missing class during that time can make a difference [in] your overall grade and success throughout the semester,” Blevins said. “If you can do anything to keep yourself healthy, [like getting a vaccine], I think that is a great step to take.”

Getting the vaccines not only prevents getting the flu but also lessens the severity of symptoms, Blevins said.

“It allows your immune system to recognize the virus and to create a defense mechanism against the virus,” Blevins said. “In the future, when you are exposed, those antigens are activated to help counteract the evasion of the virus that causes flu.”

Blevins said during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, people lost loved ones and were forced into isolation, and that has influenced people’s perceptions of vaccines. However, the flu shot has been around for over 60 years, Blevins said, so there’s no comparison between it and COVID-19 vaccines. 

“I think COVID-19 caused a little trauma with vaccines for people because there was a lot of disagreement that was talked about publicly and a lot of misunderstanding,” Blevins said. “Because COVID-19 was a very traumatic time … there has been a tainted view of vaccines as a whole … but the flu is a very different vaccine than what we had with COVID-19.”

Each year, the CDC conducts research on what strand of the flu it sees the most. Then from that study, it creates a vaccine to prevent people from getting sick. When getting a vaccine, people are not getting protection from one strand, but four, Blevins said.

“All of the vaccines in the U.S. are what’s called quadrivalent vaccines because there are multiple strands of the flu,” Blevins said. “It protects against four different flu [types], which are two different types of flu A and two types of flu B.”

However, some people are still skeptical about the effectiveness of flu shots, such as nursing graduate Maggie Stewart, Class of 2023. She said her opinion on getting a flu vaccination has changed due to her still getting sick after getting the shot.

“Even though I am [studying to be] a nurse, my opinion has changed from my personal experience,” Stewart said. “I do not think flu shots are worth it.” 

Stewart said despite her opinions, she is required to receive the vaccination for her nursing school. 

“If I had any day type of job, I would not waste time on getting a [vaccination shot],” Stewart said. 

Agricultural economics senior Carson Davis said he strongly encourages people to get their flu shot.

“I know that there are some religious reasons why some people do not get vaccines, and I think you have to respect that,” Davis said. “You have to respect that other person regardless if you think they are correct.”

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