Free flu jabs for 2500 students

The Otago University Students' Association is tackling freshers' flu head-on by offering free vaccinations to about 2500 students.

OUSA president Hugh Baird, who yesterday got a flu jab, said the scheme, which would cost it about $50,000, was building on the success of last year's pilot when 150 free flu jabs were handed out.

The scheme was important because students were particularly prone to influenza due to being concentrated in a small area and congregating together in large numbers in lecture theatres and the library.

They were particularly vulnerable at the end of breaks when students brought bugs back with them after travelling home.

This phenomenon was known as ''freshers' flu'' when it came to first-year students falling sick after first arriving in the city.

The scheme would not only protect students who were vaccinated, but also the rest of the student population because having fewer carriers slowed the spread of the flu, he said..

Mr Baird, who admitted to being not too fond of needles, said the jab did not hurt.

OUSA welfare officer Danielle Pope, who has led the organisation of the scheme, said students could get access to the free vaccine by booking an appointment through Student Health.

Without support from OUSA the vaccine cost $20, which was enough to put many students off, Ms Pope said.

The initiative which only began last Friday had already been taken up by more than 500 students.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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