By ARIEL HERNANDEZ
“I almost died last year and they saved me,” said Elizabeth Smith, sophomore allied health major.
In the fall semester of 2014, Smith had tonsillitis and didn’t even know it until one morning her throat had swollen up and she had an attack for the first time
“I went to the health center and they gave me a steroid shot to get my throat to open up so that I [could] breathe,” Smith said. “They charged me $10 for an antibiotic but I’ll take that because it saved me. This happened during finals week so being able to easily go to the health center and make it to my finals made the 10 bucks worth it.”
Spring semester of 2015 was no different, as Smith experienced another attack, resulting in another visit to the health center. All Full-time undergraduate and international students pay a $385 mandatory student health fee each semester for full access to the Dickey and Wellness Center’s health, counseling and wellness services. Full-time graduate students can voluntarily purchase a health insurance policy through UT’s United HealthCare student resources.
Some medical services provided on-campus are diagnosis and treatment of acute illnesses and injuries, immunizations, women’s services and allergy injections. The health center also provides over-the-counter medications for allergies, coughing, chest pains, sore throat, fever, heartburn, and many other minor issues for a minimal price. They also prescribe medicines for students to pick up at local drug stores such as Walgreens, CVS and Walmart.
While the United HealthCare Student Resources covers 100 percent for on campus services, off campus services aren’t fully covered and require students to pay out of pocket.
Courtney Kamin, sophomore communications major at UT, took a trip to the health center earlier this semester because she was having severe stomach problems. Kamin’s mother, who is a doctor, suggested that she go to the health center to find out what was wrong.
“They thought it was appendicitis so they sent me to the ER,” Kamin said. “I haven’t gotten the bill for that so I don’t know how well the health insurance works for the financial portion but I like the fact that [the health center] was able to recommend me where to go. I’ve been there multiple times for a lot of different things and I do like it because currently I do not have health insurance elsewhere so it’s really my only failed safe right now.”
Although UT provides on-campus health insurance, they do not recommend students to drop their regular insurance because if students do receive medical help outside of the campus health center, they can use both insurances to provide better coverage for their medical services.
“I like my healthcare that I have outside of UT and I’d just prefer to have that instead of paying over $300 for our healthcare when I don’t go in there for anything besides a flu shot,” said Yuliya Babichuk, sophomore criminal justice major. “If you’re someone that’s always sick then the health center is a good place to get the medication, but if you’re like me, someone that rarely gets sick, it’s a waste of money that could be spent elsewhere.”
Every year the University of Tampa sends out an email informing all students and faculty that the Health Center is offering free annual influenza vaccinations. Tricia Coffey, a senior nursing student, has received a flu vaccine on campus every year she’s attended.
“I think it’s really great they offer [flu vaccines] on campus for free,” Coffey said. “It’s nice we don’t have to go off campus to find a pharmacy or pay for it, they offer them right here.”
According to the CDC database, this year is different because the quadrivalent flu vaccine was invented in the 2011-12 flu season and is now known to be the most effective vaccine to protect against the virus. The previous flu shot offered protection against one Type B and two Type A flu virus strains. However, many manufacturers are turning to the quadrivalent flu vaccine, because instead of just protecting against three strains of the virus, it protects against a fourth strain, which is a secondary type B strain.
Students can go to the Minute Clinic at CVS pharmacy on South Howard Avenue to receive their quadrivalent flu shot using their United Healthcare Student Insurance because UT only carries the traditional flu vaccine.
The quadrivalent vaccine was created to target all possible strains to ensure protection of the virus.
“It [the quadrivalent flu vaccine] is slightly more effective as far as prevention,” said Abby, a pharmacist at CVS on Howard Avenue.
While some students are seeking to take advantage of the resources and get the shot, there are others that believe the myth: flu shots will give you the flu. Although most people do feel ill soon after getting the vaccine, it’s not the flu. The vaccine contains dead flu virus, therefore it can’t infect you. Another flu vaccine myth is that if you’ve got the vaccine last year, you’re protected this year. Students need to update their vaccine because there are always new strains being discovered.