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Students at Otago University have expressed concern about the severe lack of flu vaccinations being offered this winter.
It was reported that Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) would only be offering 150 free flu jabs to a student body of 20,000 as per negotiations with Student Health Services.
Free flu vaccinations were part of the election promise made by Laura Harris, who was successful in her campaign last year to become OUSA President.
This development has caused some students to become dubious of Harris’ commitment to election promises, with a mere 0.7 percent of Otago University students being able to receive the vaccination for free.
This has been rebutted by both OUSA and Otago Student Health Services, who stated that this year is just a “pilot” programme for future flu vaccination campaign, after similar schemes were unsuccessful in previous years.
VUWSA President Jonathan Gee said it was great OUSA had started offering flu shots, but that he hoped they would “ramp it up” in years to come.
Young people are not typically at risk of contracting the flu virus, but the Government is stressing that previously healthy people have still gotten seriously ill, with some even passing away.
Factors that complicate this further are diabetes, respiratory issues such as asthma, pregnancy, and any medical condition that impacts the immune system.
VUW Student Health has been offering influenza shots free of charge for twelve years, with VUWSA providing more than 2700 vaccinations to students and staff in 2015. The exact numbers for this year are yet to be released, but Gee expects it to be around 3000. This figure includes drop-ins at Student Health who missed out during the main drive.
The flu shots are subsidised through the Student Service Levy and in conjunction with Mauri Ora.
Immunisations were also offered in halls of residence, where first-year students are particularly susceptible due to living in close quarters with a large amount of people.
There is no cap on the number of flu vaccinations offered at Victoria, despite costing $24,000 last year.