UMKC Pharmacy Students Bringing Awareness, Vaccines to Battle Flu

Springfield campus students, faculty are taking up a flu shot challenge

Flu season is in full swing and college students living in a campus environment that combines close living quarters with communal dining facilities and large classrooms can be particularly at risk.

That’s why UMKC School of Pharmacy students at the school’s Springfield campus are partnering with Missouri State University Magers Health and Wellness to sponsor the “Bear the Band-Aid” flu shot challenge. The campaign is meant to raise an awareness of the importance of receiving an annual flu vaccine, said Paul Gubbins, Pharm.D., associate dean for the UMKC School of Pharmacy at Missouri State University.

“We started the Bear the Band-Aid campaign in September 2016 in an attempt to increase the vaccination rates on the MSU campus,” Gubbins said. “Our effort was based on a 2016 report by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases that noted influenza vaccination rates are typically very low on college campuses.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 8 percent of Americans will get sick from the flu virus each year. That means more than 26 million people developing flu symptoms.

Outreach efforts by Springfield pharmacy students included an article in a Missouri State campus newsletter where they noted that while most college students recognize the risk of flu to the very young or old, they often underestimate their own risk.

Gubbins said the initiative has met with mixed results. While a study has shown the vaccination rate on the Springfield campus to be higher than the reported rate on college campuses across the nation, there is still a need to increase awareness of the need to receive the vaccine. At the same time, among those who have been vaccinated previously, the campus campaign has created a greater awareness, Gubbins said.

“We feel it augments everything that MSU already does to make the influenza vaccine easily accessible to its students,” Gubbins said.

As of early October, nearly 2,000 employees and students on the Springfield campus had received the vaccine.

In addition to the awareness campaign, the campus pharmacy students are also active in delivering influenza vaccinations to those in Springfield and Greene County. Throughout a given flu season, Gubbins said his students will administer as many as 700 to 900 influenza vaccines throughout the community.

UMKC School of Pharmacy Students administer the flu shot

In Kansas City, UMKC pharmacy students have been active in administering vaccines at the university’s flu vaccine clinics in September and October. Pharmacy students from UMKC’s three campuses in Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield also collaborate with pharmacies, clinics and organizations throughout Missouri each year to typically provide nearly 3,000 flu shots to patients throughout the state.

The regional American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists organization honored the UMKC School of Pharmacy in 2019 with an Operation Immunization chapter award. It recognized the extraordinary contributions pharmacists provide to improving vaccination rates in their communities. The UMKC chapter also received the national recognition in 2012.

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Published: Oct 19, 2021

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