Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter sat on the edge of his desk and slipped off his shirt as Idaho State University third-year pharmacy student Whitney Bennet prepared to administer an influenza vaccination Nov. 7.“I’m a cowboy so I’m not about to tell you if it hurt,” he joked after the shot, but quickly added the vaccination was not only painless, but key to keeping people healthy during flu season. “It’s so much better to keep people from getting sick in the first place,” he said.
More than 2,500 Idaho residents—including 1,200 in the Treasure Valley—have received influenza immunizations this fall, thanks to Idaho State University College of Pharmacy students and the College’s Operation Immunization program.
Student pharmacists, under the supervision of a faculty member or licensed pharmacist, have provided the vaccinations at local pharmacies, health clinics, influenza awareness fairs and company health awareness programs, including Sav-On pharmacies and Ladd Family Pharmacy in Boise.
Suzanne Tegland, Operation Immunization student coordinator, says the number of immunizations administered this season has increased by more than 100 from those given in 2007. Students plan to administer more immunizations next week in the Burley area.
“Each year, our students reach out to more members of the Southeastern and Treasure Valley communities to educate, and vaccinate against the influenza virus,” said College of Pharmacy Dean Joseph Steiner. “The Operation Immunization program is a great example of how the College is helping to meet the health care needs of Idaho citizens, while providing an excellent heath science education.”
Influenza is a contagious virus that causes respiratory symptoms like sore throat, coughing, and sneezing and runny nose. It may also be accompanied by a high fever, headache and muscle aches. Nausea and vomiting occur more commonly in children than adults. At particular risk are healthy adults who can catch the disease and start spreading it, even one day prior to symptoms developing, and for up to five days after. This means that you could be spreading the flu without feeling sick.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, people at high risk for flu complications are highly encouraged to be vaccinated—these include children from six-months-old up to their fifth birthday, pregnant women, anyone over 55 and people of any age who have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, congestive heart failure or asthma. In addition, people who live with or care for those who are at high risk should get the vaccination. This includes health care workers and family and daycare personnel who are around children less than six-months-old (too young to be immunized). However, even those who don’t fall under any of these categories should consider getting the flu shot to prevent spreading or catching the disease, either at home or at work.