By Cecilia Jordan
As a student, staying healthy is a full time job. We are in the public all day, around all sorts of people, and germs spread like wildfire. Missing one day of class due to sickness can potentially put a student behind the rest of the class by a week. However, since a lot of the student population has no insurance, staying healthy is more of a wish than an expectation. For COM students looking for low cost medical options, the health center located just off of parking lot 6 next to the police station might be a good place to start.
There are many services offered by licensed health care workers for a small fee and some even for free. Students can take advantage of speaking with a medical doctor or nurse when they have concerns about their health. If a student is sick or hurt on campus, the health center can also either treat them or assist in getting the help they need. The clinic also offers low cost medications, screening tests such as blood or pregnancy and immunizations for conditions such as Tetanus, Hepatitis or the flu shot.
June Lee, a registered nurse and clinical specialist practitioner at the health center, is a friendly face students can rely on to keep them healthy. She encourages students to get the flu shot to keep them healthy during the winter months when we are more subject to illness. The Center for Disease Control says that in the United States on average five to 20 percent of the population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications. Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. Older people, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions are at high risk for serious flu complications.
The best way to prevent seasonal flu is by getting a seasonal flu vaccination each year. This year, the health center has seen an increase in students receiving the vaccine, in part of a generous donation from ASCOM, which lowered the fee in September from $20 to a cost of $10 if they have insurance or for free if they don’t have insurance. After November, the cost went down to $5 for insured students and is still free for the uninsured. Lee is confident that this will happen next year as well. If it does not, Lee says that the health center is still the cheapest compared to surrounding pharmacies.
Each year these flu shots are taken out of the health center’s budget and are good until the next summer. If students have not received their shot and would still like too, “Students need to know that [this year’s vaccine] is only good for the last part of the season. [Students] will still need to get the new [shot] next fall,” Lee said.
If it’s possible to wait till next fall Lee reminds students that the best way to stay healthy is to wash their hands all year round. It is the best defense against infectious bacteria. Lee says, “washing your hands is the best thing. [There] are signs all over [campus] reminding you to wash your hands. People don’t realize all the things they touch pens, a keyboard, the pin pad at the grocery store–they all have germs on them.”
Even with winter behind us and summer is right around the corner, keep in mind that it is a year around commitment to keep you healthy. The CDC says the best way to stay healthy is to get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and to eat nutritious food.