POSTED: Friday, January 18, 2013 - 11:58am
UPDATED: Saturday, January 19, 2013 - 10:51am
EDINBURG, TEXAS (NEWS CENTER 23) — The flu has hit early and hard this season, but The University of Texas-Pan American is hoping to keep it from spreading across campus by offering free flu shots to students. Here's Sandra Quintanilla with this week's News Center 23 report.
UTPA's Student Health Services wants to make sure the university community is protected from the dreaded flu epidemic that has swept across the country and infecting people of all ages. So, as part of its efforts, the department is offering vaccinations to students at no cost to them. Director Rick Gray says it's too soon to tell if the virus has hit the college population because the spring semester just started, but nevertheless his staff is ready to take care of those students coming in with influenza or for their free injections. Rick Gray/Student Health Services Director, "There’s always a concern but we’re prepared for it, we’re ready for it, we have supplies and staff and equipment and we’ll do the best we can."
Gray says the strain of flu circulating this year is called the H3N2 which tends to be more potent than the average flu virus. Rick Gray/Student Health Services Director, "It just causes a more severe form of the illness. It has more of a respiratory component. It makes folks have a lot more coughing and pulmonary affect than say the average flu string."
Normally, the virus hits in late January but this season it started much earlier with cases originating in many northeastern states this past November and December At UTPA, Gray says the bug is usually seen sporadically throughout the fall and spring semesters, but there's nothing right now at UTPA of concern or near an outbreak. He thinks the free vaccinations are helping to keep the numbers down. So far, his department has given around 700 flu shots.