Monday, June 14, 2021

Students Help Protect UM, Community During Flu Season

A student checks her phone while walking past the Lyceum. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications
A student checks her phone while walking past the Lyceum. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The dreaded flu season is fast approaching, so it’s time to get an annual flu shot. Students at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy are making it easy to stay healthy this year without leaving campus.

In conjunction with the national Operation Immunization campaign driven by the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists, the Ole Miss chapter of the organization has coordinated multiple opportunities for university faculty, staff, students and community members to get flu shots.

Operation Immunization’s goal is to increase the public’s knowledge of immunizations while also increasing the number of adults receiving immunizations. Meredith Oliver, a second-year professional pharmacy student from Collierville, Tennessee, is organizing the event.

“As student pharmacists, we believe it is our duty to educate our campus about the importance of receiving the flu shot,” Oliver said. “By getting vaccinated, you are not only protecting yourself from this virus but also preventing yourself from passing the flu to your friends, family and colleagues. Our goal is to help improve the Ole Miss community’s health by vaccinating our fellow Rebels.”

This year, APhA-ASP will partner with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, School of Nursing and the Student National Pharmaceutical Association. Mackenzie Lewis, chapter president-elect and a second-year professional pharmacy student from Ruston, Louisiana, said that it is important to “promote inter-professionalism with other medical professionals and organizations.”

Last year, members of APhA-ASP immunized a majority of Ole Miss student-athletes.

“The University of Mississippi is the flagship university of our state and has so many resources to offer our students and the broader community,” said Ross Bjork, Ole Miss athletics director. “Oftentimes we are able to create very unique partnerships that capitalize on the strengths of the university and on the high visibility of our athletics program.

“Operation Immunization is a great example of utilizing valuable resources in our School of Pharmacy and the platform of athletics to provide a service that everyone can benefit from, especially our students and student-athletes. We appreciate the great work of our ‘neighbors’ in the School of Pharmacy and cannot wait to see what we can do in the future.”

David D. Allen, the school’s dean, said he is looking forward to this year’s event.

“Immunizations are an incredibly important service that our students provide on both our Oxford and Jackson campuses,” Allen said. “It’s exciting that we can again partner with Ole Miss athletics to help out their outstanding student-athletes – one of which is our very own first-year professional pharmacy student and soccer player, Jenn Miller.”

For the month of September and the first week of October, students certified through APhA’s Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery Program will be administering flu shots at various campus locations.

Immunizations will be given:

  • Sept. 14 – Student Union, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (in collaboration with the School of Nursing)
  • Sept. 21 – Lyceum, Room 110, 1-5 p.m.
  • Sept. 21 – Student Union Plaza, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Sept. 23 – Grove Stage, 12:30-5 p.m.
  • Oct. 2 – Khayat Law Center, Room 1115, Noon-4 p.m.
  • Oct. 2 – School of Pharmacy, Noon-4 p.m.
  • Oct. 20 – Student Union Health Fair, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Immunization recipients can choose to bill their health insurance, which typically covers this service, and students can have their bursar account charged with proof of student ID.

The event benefits both pharmacy students and those being immunized, said Joseph A. Dikun, APhA-ASP co-adviser and graduate assistant in the Department of Pharmacy Administration.

“It’s powerful to see our students engage with their patients, provide key preventative health measures, as well as introduce them to how the care of a pharmacist – the medication expert – can make a difference in their lives,” Dikun said.

According to APhA’s website, flu vaccines can prevent more than 50,000 deaths annually. Since the launch of this program in 1997, more than 1 million individuals have received immunizations through it.


Written by Gabrielle Gero
Story courtesy UM Communications

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