Protecting Pirates | Beaufort County Now | FluFest organizers administer about 1,300 vaccines over two days

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services. The author of this post is Crystal Baity.

Rohini Rajnarayanan gets a flu shot at the Health Sciences Student Center on Sept. 28. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

    More than 500 people rolled up their sleeves for a flu shot - and almost 200 got a COVID-19 vaccine or booster - on a picture-perfect Tuesday at East Carolina University's FluFest.

    The final day of FluFest featured free merchandise and raffle prizes, Jimmy John's subs, cornhole games and music on the Main Campus Student Center lawn.

    "We've had a really good turnout today," said Dr. Todd Jackson, pharmacist and director of ancillary services for ECU Physicians and the Brody School of Medicine. "The goal was to make it convenient and efficient not only for students, but also faculty and staff to access COVID-19 and flu vaccines."

    Kristina Slade, a freshman biology major, had just gotten out of class and was walking to the bus stop when she saw the event.

    "The music definitely got my attention," she said. "I want to keep my family healthy, and I want to keep myself from getting sick."

    Her stepdad is immunocompromised so getting vaccinated is important, she said.

    Teaching assistant Vedant Deshpande, who is earning his doctoral degree in quantum physics, also stopped after seeing the tents and activities. "I want to socialize, so I need to make sure I'm safe," he said.

    Sarah Sudekum, a social work student, got the COVID-19 booster shot. She and her mother both contracted the coronavirus over Christmas break, and her mother has had lingering effects from the illness. "It's a really big deal to me," she said. "There's not much I can do, but I can do this."

    She said FluFest was a great idea. "I think it's fun and it's easy access for students. There's almost no excuse not to get a shot," Sudekum said.

    Putting fun into getting a shot was one of the goals of FluFest, which was organized by Student Health Services (SHS) in collaboration with Campus Recreation and Wellness (CRW).

    "It's an opportunity to throw a party," said Steven Trotter, associate director of wellness and fitness at CRW. "For something that may seem boring and just a check box, it's a way to celebrate."

    Last month on the health sciences campus, more than 400 people, including Brady Buchanan, a third-year medical student, received a flu shot. He said he gets vaccinated as early as possible every year and advises everyone to do the same. "It's helpful for me to not get sick," he said.

    ECU employees Michelle Bone and her husband, Larry, also get a flu shot each year. "It keeps everyone healthy and safe," she said.

    Influenza is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. Even healthy people can get very ill and can spread influenza to others. Flu season varies from year to year, but it can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Generally, the season peaks in January or February.

    It takes about two weeks after the vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza viruses, which is why it's important to get vaccinated in early fall before flu season gets underway, officials say.

    Last year's flu season was mild, with many people staying home and wearing masks because of the pandemic, Jackson said. "It's important for people to protect themselves as much as possible from the flu," he said.

    Overall, about 1,300 shots were administered on the main and health sciences campuses over two days of FluFest. The partnership between SHS and CRW has been a big success, Jackson said. "We're looking forward to future collaborations with them," he said.
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