Boulder County Longmont Clinic: 529 Coffman St., Suite 200, Longmont
Boulder County Boulder Clinic: 3482 Broadway, Boulder
For more information: bouldercounty.org/family/disease/pages/flu.aspx
University of Colorado
CU's Wardenburg Health Center: colorado.edu/healthcenter/fluinfo
Flu symptoms Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea
Source: University of Colorado Wardenburg Health Center
University of Colorado health officials are trying a new tactic this flu season to encourage more students to get vaccinated: Take the flu shots to where the students are.
They've also made flu shots free to everyone at CU who pays a mandatory student health fee, which has led to an increase in the number of vaccinated students this fall.
Last year at this time, Wardenburg had given 1,000 shots, said medical director David Lawrance. So far this year, it's given out 2,400.
"A lot more students now know that flu shots are intended for everyone, that flu shots can't under any condition cause the flu and that the best way to protect loved ones is to surround them with others who are also immunized," Lawrance said.
In the past, flu shots have been free for students with a university-sponsored health insurance plan. Otherwise, they were $20, Lawrance said.
Lawrance and other Wardenburg staff members felt students shouldn't have to pay for a flu shot on top of the health fee, which is roughly $70 this year for most students.
"We thought flu shots belonged in that category," Lawrance said. "We're all pretty sensitive to the benefits of having a well-immunized campus."
It's hard to track how many of CU's roughly 30,000 students get the flu each year because they often seek treatment elsewhere or not at all, said CU community health strategist Lee Scriggins. The Colorado Department of Health recorded 1,530 hospitalizations for influenza from 47 Colorado counties during the 2011-2012 flu season.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an annual season flu vaccine is the best way to avoid getting the flu and spreading it to others. So far this year, health providers have given 113.9 million doses of flu vaccine nationwide, according to the CDC.
"When people are living in really close quarters and are highly stressed the way people are in college, they're really vulnerable to disease outbreaks," Scriggins said.
And when students get a cold or the flu, Scriggins said, research shows it can really affect their academic performance. Getting sick can mean missing classes, work, homework and other obligations -- that's the key message of posters hanging above the sinks in bathrooms around campus encouraging students to wash their hands.
"It's one of those mundane health issues like people's sleep, stress, colds, flu, but it has a huge impact," Scriggins said. "Colds and flu are one of the things that really hang people's academic achievement up."
Students can make an appointment at the health center for a flu shot or walk in during normal business hours, and Scriggins and community health employees and volunteers are hosting various flu shot open houses around campus this fall. They've also been hosting small clinics inside residence halls or campus departments.
Bringing the flu shot clinics to students gets rid of some of the common barriers preventing students from getting vaccinated. Some students feel they don't have time to go to the health center or don't usually go to the doctor, so getting a flu shot in their dormitory is convenient and can seem less clinical, Scriggins said.
Getting a flu shot with friends or hallmates also helps build community, Lawrance said.
"Friends bring friends with them," Lawrance said. "It's social.