November 3, 2006

Gannett Prepares Flu Inoculation

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Afraid of getting sick this winter? Getting the flu shot can help you stay healthy.

For the past two years, Gannett has had trouble getting enough of the flu vaccine to supply all of campus, first because of a nationwide vaccine shortage and then because of production issues.

“This year, … [Gannett is] going to have enough flu vaccine for all the people who are going to want to get it,” said Sharon J. Dittman, associate director of community relations for Gannett Health Services.

Orders for the vaccine were placed in March to ensure that there would be enough for the Cornell community.

According to Dittman, the flu usually hits campus after Thanksgiving or winter breaks, although it can come as early as October or as late as March. In places where “people live, work and study in close quarters,” such as on Cornell’s campus, there is a greater chance of infection.

The time at which flu season begins is unpredictable, and the vaccine is most effective when received a few weeks before being exposed to the flu, Dittman said. Because of this, Gannett is having flu clinics now.

This fall, Gannett is holding 40 flu clinics all over campus. They take place at various times of day where students can receive the flu shot. The cost is $25, which can be charged to the bursar bill, and the wait is usually only about five or ten minutes, Dittman said. Locations and times are available on the Gannett website.

In addition to the flu clinics, the vaccine is also available at Gannett.
Gannett has already notified many students who are at-risk of having complications if they contract the flu that the flu clinics are taking place, Dittman said. People who are at risk include those with chronic health issues like asthma, diabetes, kidney problems and immunodeficiency.

People who receive the flu vaccine reduce their chance of getting the flu by about 60 to 70 percent. Those who still get the flu have much milder symptoms for a shorter period of time.

“One of the main reasons students don’t get vaccinated is because it takes time to do it, and we are doing our best to make it as easy and as fast for students as we can,” Dittman said. “We hope people will think about the fact that taking 15 or 30 minutes now to walk over to a flu clinic and stand in line for a few minutes is better than having a week out of your life during flu season if you get sick.”

Some students, such as Elena Smith ’07 are not planning on receiving the flu shot because they are concerned that they would be taking a dose away from a member of the at-risk population if they received the vaccine.
“I’m not in the target at-risk population, so in general it’s not worth it,” she said.

Dittman, however, is confident that availability of the vaccine will not be an issue.

Others are looking to take advantage of the service Gannett is offering.
“It’s nice that it’s on campus,” Kerran Flanagan ’10 said. “Gannett has a lot of different times so I can pick one that fits my schedule.”

The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu, and the side effects, which are usually limited to soreness at the injection site, are very mild.

However, the vaccine is not suited for everyone. If you’re sick, especially if you have a fever or acute respiratory infection, you should not get the
vaccine until your symptoms are gone, Dittman said.

Additionally, “you cannot get the vaccine if you’re allergic to latex, eggs or thimerosal, which is a vaccine preservative,” Dittman said. “Those are rare allergies, and people who have them know who they are.”

According to Dittman, even people who cannot or choose to not get the flu shot can take steps to prevent contracting the virus. Washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth when you cough, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth are all important steps in staying healthy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some viruses can live on surfaces such as handrails and doorknobs for two hours or longer. If someone touches one of these surfaces and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth before washing their hands, they can contract the flu.
It’s also important to “[boost] the immune system by doing just that little bit more to take care of yourself,” Dittman said. “A little bit more sleep, a little bit better diet, a little bit of exercise, all of those make a big difference when we’re all cooped up inside and surrounded by wintertime germs.”

She also pointed out that alcohol-based sanitizers, such as Purell, are effective for situations when you cannot wash your hands.

While other steps are important, the CDC says that being vaccinated against the flu every year is the best way to prevent infection.

“What we usually say to people is that if you don’t think you can afford to loose a week of work, study, play, vacation, whatever it is that’s important to you, [the vaccine] is a really good way to reduce your change of getting the flu.”

ot seem to comprehend that it is located in rural upstate New York, not midtown Manhattan,” said Kent Michels ’07. Michels currently pays $96.61/month for on-campus parking on North Campus, while he lives on West.
Students who do not wish to pay on a month-by-month basis can purchase an annual permit for $641.10, which guarantees students a parking spot on-campus for a full year. Michels said his brother at Hamilton College pays only $50 per year while he must suffer the “exorbitant cost of parking on campus.” In addition, Michels is not able to use his car on weekdays due to its distance from his dorm. Instead, he waits until weekends when it is more practical to make the trek.

“[Parking permits] are intentionally expensive to discourage students from bringing a car. This is a walk-able bike-able campus that has great transit services,” said David Lieb, assistant director for public information at Cornell Transportation and Mail Services.

To which Michels responds: “Besides the bus ride [to the mall] being almost interminable, who doesn’t enjoy waiting outside for a bus on a cold, rainy, miserable day in Ithaca?”

Other students who do not use on-campus parking may face even greater charges. Jason Shapiro ’07 currently pays $900 per year for parking at his off-campus residence. Shapiro claims he did not research Ithaca City permits well but would not have bought one anyway due to their inconvenience.
In truth, Ithaca city residential permits may be the way to go but only for the lucky few. While Ithaca issues permits for $45/year, there are restrictions for which zones residents must live in to be eligible, according to

Nonetheless, Shapiro and Michels could be saving a lot of money by researching off-campus options. Novarr-Mackesey, for example, a student renting company rents out parking spaces for $50/month on East State Street. Other students rent their unused off-campus parking spaces for as low as $25/month.

But most students go with the way of convenience. “[My parking spot] is right next to the house, so it’s very convenient,” Shapiro said. “I hated having to walk up and down a big hill last year.” Shapiro had to walk from his Cascadilla dorm to the parking lot in which his car was parked. Michels claims he did not research private parking options due to “laziness.”
However, even students who purchase on-campus parking permits still run the risk of being ticketed. Generally, students are unable to drive their cars to class without parking very far away. While metered spots are available throughout campus, they typically have three-hour maximums.

“I’m always nervous,” said Shapiro, who now double-checks signs after receiving a parking ticket his freshman year. He said that he got a ticket after he parked outside of Carpenter Library at 7:15 p.m. when he was only allowed to park there after 8 p.m.

A standard ticket at Cornell runs about $25. But usually, warnings are issued at the beginning of the year when students are still adjusting to the enforcements, Lieb said.

Visitors too, are not protected from Cornell’s strict parking laws. Matthew Tymann, a junior at Georgetown University also received a parking ticket. “By itself, I thought the ticket was pretty fair. However, I’ve visited Cornell a few times and I always have issues with parking. Everything seems to be reserved for some specific group, and I’m never sure where is actually open to visitors.”

Visitor passes actually cost $8/day to park in the parking garage on Hoy Road, according to Lieb. He also said that there is generally no free parking on campus during business hours, aside from the 10-minute drop off zones.

People seem to expect there to be sufficient parking because Cornell is a rural campus.

Tymann, for example appears to share Michels’ sentiment: “If it were a city campus, I could understand it more, but on the vast expanse that is Cornell, I would think there’d be sufficient room for people to park.”

Actually, Cornell does appear to have limited space. According to Lieb, Cornell has about 10,000 spots, 6,500 of which are used for day-to-day services. Cornell works to “protect those spaces,” Lieb said, as they are necessary for commuter students and faculty. However, daily transgressions occur from students, faculty, and staff alike.

“We do as much as we can in terms of educating people.” Lieb said that information about parking is sent out to students, especially freshman so that they may have better knowledge about their options.
But to some like Michels, who hold a relentless grudge, this is simply not enough. “I plan to deduct [these costs] from future alumni donations. [Cornell is] not getting a cent from me.”