Health & Wellness at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) held their annual flu vaccine clinic on October 9 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Hamel Recreation Center.
Director of Education and Promotion Kathleen Grace-Bishop believes the vaccine is particularly important on a college campus.
“[Students] are living in close quarters, attending classes and eating at the same dining halls which give opportunities for germs to be passed and increases the risk of contracting the flu.”
Grace-Bishop also spoke on the importance of the vaccine from a public health perspective.
“There is herd immunity – which when enough people get vaccinated, makes the community as a whole less susceptible to contracting the flu as it doesn’t travel as easily from person to person. Even those without vaccines due to medical complications or allergies will receive the same protection from the flu.”
What many students were unaware of was the seemingly minor administrative requirement for students – the new requirement for students to present not only their student ID cards, but their health insurance cards as well.
Previously, the flu vaccine clinic was covered under the Health & Wellness fee of every student. What this means is that health insurance was not billed when a student received their vaccine. The cost was subsidized by the funding the university receives.
Due to a change in how the clinic is financed and further budget restrictions and reductions, students were required to present their health insurance cards to the facilitators of the clinic. On the surface, the change appeared minor, as the student is still receiving their vaccine free at the point of service. However, the student’s health insurance will now be billed after receiving their vaccine.
The change in procedure represents a fundamental problem with the University System of New Hampshire – its lack of funding. In 2018, additional budget constraints were placed on Health & Wellness, causing the department to shift the burden of payment to students’ health insurance.
As of now, the effects have yet to be seen if this change will impact students directly. At the moment, it appears as if it only shifts the burden of payment from one large entity, the University, to students and members of the community’s health insurance companies. As full-time students are required to have health insurance, they should not be impacted at the point of service.
Despite this change, Health & Wellness expected the same turn-out for their flu vaccine clinic this year compared to previous years. In 2018, Health & Wellness distributed 1,898 immunizations to members of the University. Health & Wellness expect no decline due to administrative change.