180 PEOPLE RECEIVED THEIR INFLUENZA VACCINES DURING THE THREE-HOUR CLINIC, WHICH HAS BECOME AN ANNUAL TRADITION ON THE HEALTH SCIENCE UNIVERSITY’S CAMPUS.
“I know it’s painless,” muttered Dr. Edward Bilsky as he entered Butler-Haney Hall’s Room 107, “but I still don’t like needles.”
As one of the roughly 50-million Americans who suffer from a fear of needles, Dr. Bilsky had every reason to avoid the syringe-filled space, but he entered anyway. Sometimes, it turns out, influenza trumps trypanophobia.
10 years ago, pneumonia landed him in the hospital for 5 days — and led to many more in continued recovery. Ever since, Dr. Bilsky had become religious about getting his annual flu shot. Aware of the potential consequences of not being vaccinated, he no longer allowed any phobia to get in the way of his health or the health of those around him.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 959,000 Americans were hospitalized by the flu during a
Tricia Worthington, PNWU’s Applications Records Coordinator, witnessed the devastation of those very statistics firsthand as she and all six members of her family suffered through the virus's debilitating effects for over two weeks last year. As Dr. Bilsky checked in, she proudly pressed a green “I Got My Fly Shot” sticker onto her polka-dotted cardigan.
“This shot is so much easier than the actual flu,” she explained, looking down at her bandaid, “and the accessibility that comes along with events like this, for the entire PNWU community, is so beneficial. I don’t know if I would have had an opportunity to get it done someplace else, but having it here on campus during the work day makes it super easy.” That accessibility led to a record-setting number of flu shots this year in what has been an annual event since the start of the health sciences university.
According to the CDC, the flu vaccine is the first and best way to reduce your chances of getting the flu and spreading it to others. They recommend that everyone six-months of age and older receive a flu vaccine every year, with rare exceptions.
“We officially had 180 flu shots given today, which Wyatt (a pharmacist from Tieton Village Drugs, which provided the flu vaccines) says is the most they’ve ever done in a single clinic day,” said Jackie Chung, second-year PNWU medical student and president of the university’s Infectious Disease Club. “They even had to send someone out to bring more vials since we ran out with our first batch around 1 p.m.”
Each of the 180 flu shots were administered by current PNWU osteopathic medical students, who had received a training on how to properly deliver the potential life-saving vaccines prior to the clinic’s 11 a.m. start-time. By 1 p.m., representatives from Tieton Village Drug had to make the 10-mile roundtrip trek back to the independently-owned pharmacy to retrieve more vials, having already surpassed their initial participant estimates.
“The decision to get vaccinated was easy,” said Cuong Vien, second-year PNWU medical student. “It’s important to protect myself, as well as the members of my community, during the flu season. Plus, it was painless, which is nice to know, because I’m also giving the shot,” he said with a laugh. “It’s great practice, and will help to improve the future experiences of my patients.” Fellow second-year student Polly Wiltz mirrored that sentiment.
“When fewer people are vaccinated, the risk that the rest of the community gets sick increases,” she explained. “As medical students, we’re role models for the community. This gives us an opportunity to continue educating. If we’re being vaccinated, we can then go and educate our patients on why it’s important.”