Flu shots encouraged as cold and flu season approaches

By Shelbi Voss

Each year the McKinley Health Center offers free flu shots to students who have paid the health service fee. As the campus community begins to face cool fall weather, concern for the cold and flu season amid the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged university and health officials to persuade students to take advantage of the free service.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine for anyone six months and older. Aside from flu prevention, the vaccine can also eliminate risk of hospitalization and reduce the severity and duration of contracted illness. Although flu season picks up in October and November, it can peak as late as May. Because of the effects to the respiratory tract, many symptoms of the flu are similar to those of COVID-19.

During the 2018-19 flu season, an estimated 490,600 people were hospitalized due to flu and pneumonia complications. Health officials have expressed concern over the collision of flu season and COVID-19, fearful that the healthcare system could be easily overwhelmed. The flu vaccine has proven to reduce flu risk by 40-60% as noted by the 2018-19 CDC report. It is the hope of Chancellor Robert J. Jones that each student receive a flu shot by the end of October to prevent overloading healthcare workers.

On Monday the campus community received an email from Chancellor Jones with a simple subject line: Get your flu shot. The email echoed concerns expressed by others, attempting to emphasize the impact that flu shots can have in the community.

Over the last week additional positive COVID-19 cases have risen by .35%. Building immunity to easily transferrable diseases like the common cold and the flu is just an additional step to protecting the campus community.

While McKinley Health Center is not a site for flu shots this year, they will be available at CRCE until November 20. Additional dates and locations across campus can be found on their website. For those in search of an off-campus location, Carle Hospital offers both drive-thru and walk-in flu clinics as listed on their website. Christie Clinic also offers drive-thru flu shot clinics beginning today and running through October 17. Dates and locations can be found here.