Dani Cojocari

Oakland students are encouraged to come into Graham Health Center to receive their flu shot for the year.

Getting a flu shot is no fun. What’s worse than getting a shot? Probably getting the flu itself.

Graham Health Center recognizes that students are busy and health often gets put on the back burner. That’s why the center is offering free flu shots for the third year in a row.

Most colleges in Michigan are part of a competition to see who can get the most students vaccinated against the flu. Last year, Oakland won “Most Improved Flu Doses” by 690 vaccinations, according to the Graham Health Center website. Wayne State University won the challenge last year by 0.4 percent.

Oakland is competing against schools like Wayne State, Ferris, Grand Valley and Western for the most flu immunizations given out.

According to a report that students voluntarily filled out, 1,564 students were vaccinated last year, which means 9.2 percent of students at OU were vaccinated.

Nancy Jansen, director of Oakland’s Graham Health Center, stressed that getting immunized against the flu is important.

“It’s available to everybody,” she said. “And [for] people with certain chronic conditions, it’s even more important to get the flu shot, like [for] students with asthma or diabetes or any other chronic health problems.”

Jansen recommended getting the shot as early as possible, since flu season tends to peak in January and February. The flu virus also changes every year, so the vaccination changes as well.

A full list of flu clinics outside the center can be found on the health center’s website.  “Walk-in Wednesdays” are being held at Graham Health Center from 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. The third way to get a flu shot is to call and make an appointment.

“Oftentimes, we can get people in on the same day,” Jansen said.

Jansen said that it’s required to bring an ID and proof of insurance. Even for students who have no insurance, the vaccine is administered free of charge.

If some students are terrified of needles (which Jansen assured is a very common phobia in the college age group), they may remember getting the flu vaccine via a nasal mist. However, according to research done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers found the nasal mist is overwhelmingly ineffective at preventing the flu. Therefore, they recommend an intradermal needle, which is smaller than the end of a fine-tipped Sharpie.

Jansen said it’s important that, regardless of where students get the shot, they should report that they are immunized on Graham Health Center’s website. This will help Oakland win the flu challenge.

Graham Health Center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call at (248) 370-2341 or visit its website at https://wwwp.oakland.edu/ghc/.