Director of Nursing Kathleen Brehm and Staff physician Sarah L. Stevens pose with Lehigh Health and Wellness Center’s “Boo to the Flu” ghost in Johnson Hall on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2019. Flu vaccinations are a major part of the Health and Wellness Center’s pursuit to promote healthy living at Lehigh. (Holly Santero/B&W Staff)

Health and Wellness Center sees record-breaking flu vaccination numbers

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Eight-hundred and ninety-six students have received flu vaccinations on campus this semester, which David Rubenstein, the executive director of the Health and Wellness Center, said is the most in the history of the university.

Rubenstein said the flu vaccination is one of the many initiatives of the Health and Wellness Center’s pursuit to promote healthy living at Lehigh. 

The Health and Wellness Center partners with several offices around campus to coordinate services and disseminate information across the campus. Some of these groups include Health Advancement and Prevention Services, Peer Health Advisors, Sexual Health Committee, the Pride Center and the Office of Gender Violence.

Olivia Anderson, ’20, the president of Peer Health Advisors, said the groups work together to promote one another’s initiatives. 

She said Peer Health Advisors directs students to the Health and Wellness Center in each of its presentations.

“We do see (the Health and Wellness Center) as a very valuable resource for students that we’re lucky to have on campus,” Anderson said.

In previous years, the Health and Wellness Center had seen a slow decline in the number of students vaccinated on campus. 

“Looking back, the ways of communicating to students have certainly changed over the years,” Director of Nursing Kathleen Brehm said.

Coordinating a wide variety of on- and off-campus resources aided the Health and Wellness Center’s success this year.

Organizations, such as the local Walgreens, are in partnership with Lehigh to promote healthy living. Walgreens began working with Lehigh by administering travel vaccines to students, and it helped in this year’s flu clinic.

“At the end of the day, we all live in the same community,” Rubenstein said.

In addition to promoting flu vaccinations, the Health and Wellness Center is active in promoting its STI (sexually transmitted infection) clinics and testing.

“The STI testing that does exist at the (Health and Wellness Center) is very comprehensive,” Anderson said. “They’re there to help you, they can explain it to you completely, and they’re so fast.”

STI testing is offered on a daily basis at the Health and Wellness Center.

Karen Sicinski, a registered nurse at the Health and Wellness Center, said clinic events are supplemental to the testing and services regularly offered by the center.

“The idea of the clinics is to have these events that highlight (services) … and just give you another opportunity to visit the (Health and Wellness Center) for something else,” she said.

Other important wellness activities, like women’s health and nutrition counseling, occur regularly, but aren’t necessarily highlighted as heavily as events like the flu and STI clinics.

The Health and Wellness Center staff has made a conscious effort to not only spread word about the department’s services, but also to implement current and important wellness activities.

Rubenstein said the Health and Wellness Center plans to implement a vaping cessation program, and a mindfulness program in the spring.

“The research is very clear that mindfulness has so many health and wellness benefits,” Rubenstein said.

The Health and Wellness Center also plans to revamp its website in an attempt to be more interactive with students to circulate health and wellness knowledge.

“This past fall has been absolutely terrific in terms of the Health and Wellness Center really thinking much more broadly about health and well-being across our entire campus,” Rubenstein said.

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