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May 13, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Shots! Shots! Shots!

Residents at a Victoria Hall of Residence have been left feeling sick of hall management, after feeling pressured into taking flu jabs.

Halls of Residence have been hosting clinics since early April. Students at Joan Stevens Hall reported to VUWSA that immunisation was made out to be compulsory, with those who declined the jab subject to alternative requirements. Under Section 11 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, everyone has the right to refuse to undergo any medical treatment.

Associate Director of Student Accommodation Nick Merrett denied immunisation was compulsory, stating flu vaccinations were “a personal choice” and that “no one is forced to have one”.

Students who declined immunisation were asked to provide a health-management plan to staff, detailing their plans should they fall ill, and advised they would be sent home were they to contract serious influenza.

“[Students are] informed of the isolation process should they become very ill and advised that if, at any stage, the support required is more than can be provided at the Hall, they will need to go home to fully recover,” Merrett told Salient.

According to Garry Brown, Medical Director of Student Health Service, the 73 per cent of Joan Stevens residents immunised stand to increasectheir likelihood of gaining good grades.

“160 of the 220 residents at Joan Stevens Hall chose to have the free flu vaccine … a decision that increases their likelihood of remaining well and achieving success academically,” he said.

Merrett confirmed to Salient he was “comfortable” with the process followed at Joan Stevens, and stated the immunisation process is “consistent” across the halls. However this differs from students Salient spoke to, with current and former students accusing Boulcott, Te Puni and Helen Lowry Halls of pressuring students into receiving the shots.

Flu shots are provided at the University before the start of winter each year—when the risk of contracting influenza is highest. Three clinics were held at Kelburn last week and were well attended, according to VUWSA President Rory McCourt.

McCourt said the number of students getting immunised had increased this year, although exact numbers wouldn’t be known until after Salient went to print.

“We always run out of the immunisation fluid,” he said.

Immunisation is the best defence against influenza, a virus which infects the nose, throat and lungs. Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, a runny nose, coughing, and stomach upsets, and may come on quickly. All students are elligible for a free immunisation shot from Student Health.

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