21 years of fighting the flu

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The USF College of Public Health hosted its annual Free Flu Shot Drive on Friday, Oct. 20.

In its 21st year, the drive provided 845 doses of the flu vaccine on a first come, first served basis, to the Tampa Bay community.

MCOM resident physician David Almario administered flu shots to the public (Photo by Ryan Noone).

MCOM resident physician David Almario administered flu shots to the public (Photo by Ryan Noone).

The longstanding community service is a collaboration between the College of Public Health, the College of Nursing, the Morsani College of Medicine, USF Health and the Florida Department of Health – Hillsborough County.

USF public health, nursing, and medical students volunteered their time and skills to help with the Free Flu Shot Drive (Photo by Ellen Kent).

USF public health, nursing, and medical students volunteered their time and skills to help with the Free Flu Shot Drive (Photo by Ellen Kent).

USF nursing and medical students, who have already successfully completed clinical training, administered the shots under the clinical supervision of an interdisciplinary team.

Margaret Ewen, MSPH, BSN, RN, registered nurse and CON adjunct faculty instructor, and MCOM faculty are among those who supervised students.

CON faculty Margaret Ewen reviews the vaccination process for the day with nursing students (Photo by Natalie Preston).

CON faculty Margaret Ewen reviews the vaccination process for the day with nursing students (Photo by Natalie Preston).

“The vaccines are provided free to the public because the COPH underwrites the cost the vaccine, which is supplied by the Florida Department of Health – Hillsborough County,” said Ellen Kent, MPH, CPH, coordinator of COPH Student Research Grants, the Sunshine ERC and USF Health Service Corps.

COPH students interacted with attendees and taught public health facts through a Jeopardy display (photo by Ellen Kent).

COPH students interacted with attendees and taught public health facts through a Jeopardy display (photo by Ellen Kent).

The event also included educational displays from public health student and community groups, on topics ranging from epidemiology of the flu to pediatric vaccination recommendations.

COPH Dean Donna Petersen received her flu shot at the drive (Photo by Ellen Kent).

COPH Dean Donna Petersen received her flu shot at the drive (Photo by Ellen Kent).

According to the Florida Department of Health, it is estimated that between 15% and 40% of the population will develop illness from influenza every year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months of age and older receive the flu vaccine, as the contagious respiratory virus can lead to severe illness or even death, placing children under five, pregnant women and adults ages 65 and older at higher risk.

COPH alumna Somer Burke, assistant director of graduate advising and practice programs in Academic and Student Affairs, organized a way for community members with special needs to receive their free flu shots (Photo by Ryan Noone).

COPH alumna Somer Burke, assistant director of graduate advising and practice programs in the Office of Academic and Student Affairs, organized a way for community members with special needs to receive their free flu shots (Photo by Ryan Noone).

“The flu shot is particularly useful because not only can someone keep themselves safe, but they can actually protect the community,” said Jill Roberts, PhD, assistant professor in the COPH. “With herd immunity, the more of us that get vaccinated, the less people will get influenza.”

Flu season typically runs from October to May in the U.S., with peaks occurring between December and February, according to the CDC. To view the latest influenza surveillance tracking data, visit the CDC’s FluView webpage.

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To see more photos of the event, visit the COPH’s Facebook photo album. See photos by Ellen Kent here.

View related story here.

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health , and Ryan Noone, USF Communications & Marketing 

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