SOP Hosts Annual Flu Clinic for Faculty, Staff, and Students
Community and student pharmacists assembled in Pharmacy Hall to administer seasonal flu shots to faculty, staff, and students from across the UM campus.
By Malissa Carroll
September 24, 2012
On Wednesday, September 19, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy hosted its Annual Flu Clinic to provide a convenient way for faculty, staff, and students to receive their annual flu shot, while also educating the campus community about this important vaccination. The American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists’ (APhA-ASP) “Operation Immunization” partnered with Walgreens to coordinate this event at the School of Pharmacy.
“As health care professionals, we play a vital role in advocating for wellness and prevention, and this includes vaccinations,” says Cherokee Layson-Wolf, PharmD, assistant dean for experiential learning and associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science. “It starts with receiving a flu shot ourselves so that we can serve as role models for patients. We also get the added benefit of protecting ourselves and those around us against the flu.”
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms associated with the flu can be mild to severe, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue. This illness is responsible for 40,000 deaths per year.
The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
“Before starting pharmacy school, I didn’t get a flu shot every year,” says Kinbo Lee, a second-year student pharmacist who attended the Annual Flu Clinic to receive his vaccine. “As a student pharmacist, however, I now recognize the importance of developing these healthy habits to protect others, not just myself. It’s important that I don’t pass this illness to patients, while also ensuring that patients don’t pass the illness to me.”
“I have a grandchild who is just a baby right now,” says Bonnie Schlenker, office manager for the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy who also attended the Annual Flu Clinic. “She can’t protect herself against this illness, so I have a responsibility to do what I can to protect her. That includes getting my flu shot.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all individuals age six months and older should get vaccinated against the flu each year. It is particularly important for certain groups of individuals to get vaccinated, including those five years and younger, those 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
“Instead of only promoting the importance of immunizations, we wanted to take this time to provide the campus community with an opportunity to actually obtain the influenza vaccine,” says Betty Mai, a third-year student pharmacist and senior chair for the APhA-ASP’s Operation Immunization. “Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalizations, and even death. Many people are affected each year and even healthy people can become extremely ill.”
Mai extensively communicated with pharmacists from Walgreens to coordinate this effort. She reserved a space for the clinic, and promoted the event through emails, flier advertisements, meeting announcements, and campus-wide events. She recruited volunteers to help with patient intake, paperwork, payment, and post-immunization observations, as well as fourth-year student pharmacists to provide immunizations.
In addition to providing a convenient way for members of the UM campus to receive their flu shots, Operation Immunization also launched a new flu shot competition, which will be expanded with the support of a $1,000 grant from the Maryland Partnership for Prevention. The objective of this competition was to have each pharmacy school class compete to achieve the highest number of students vaccinated against the flu this season.
“As future pharmacists, we will be giving vaccinations and serving as valuable advocates and facilitators of immunizations, which is why — as pharmacy students — it is important that we get vaccinated against the flu to serve as role models to our community,” says Mai. “One goal of this competition is to provide encouragement to pharmacy students to begin or continue to do their part in improving public health.”
To win the flu shot competition, 65 percent of the students in a pharmacy class have to receive their flu shots. The winning class will receive $150 for their SGA treasury, with individual students also having the opportunity to win a raffle for a gift card if they are members of that class. All winners will be announced after the competition closes on Nov. 19.
If you were unable to attend the Annual Flu Clinic in Pharmacy Hall, there is still time to get vaccinated. Operation Immunization will host another flu clinic on Wednesday, October 24, in the Pharmacy Hall Atrium.