By Caelinn Oliva | October 18, 2021
Tired of receiving all those earlier messages to get vaccinated? Well, the university has one more for you: get the flu shot.
With the approach of the flu season, the university health clinic is encouraging students and faculty to get the flu vaccine, a shot that will not only protect against getting sick but help local healthcare facilities already challenged by the COVID pandemic.
University spokeswoman Kelsey Butz said Student Health Services will be offering the first flu vaccine clinic on Tuesday, Oct. 19 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in room 116 in the Campus Center. In partnership with Walgreens Pharmacy, the university is expected to deliver as many as 75 doses on a first come first serve basis.
Butz added that the university will try to set up additional flu clinics as soon as possible but lining up partners this year has been challenging because many local pharmacies are facing staff shortages as well as significant increased demand for COVID-19 vaccinations.
In the meantime, Butz encouraged students and faculty to receive the flu vaccine off campus if they miss Tuesday’s event. The flu vaccine is readily available and provided for free at pharmacies and clinics, including at least three within walking distance of campus, said Butz.
The flu season often begins as early as October and can last until May. Health care professionals are apprehensive about these coming flu months due to the double whammy effect it will create alongside the coronavirus. According to the CDC, the flu shot demonstrated a 40% to 50% reduced risk of a doctor’s risk and a 26% decrease in risk of being admitted to the hospital for flu-like symptoms.
As with COVID-19, the flu is a contagious respiratory illness but one that is not caused by infection with a coronavirus but one of the many influenza viruses. Because some symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, people may need to be tested to tell what virus is causing their illness, according to the CDC.
The steps the university has taken to isolate or quarantine potentially positive COVID-19 individuals on campus, along with current mask mandates and social distancing rules “could also help reduce the spread of flu” among students and faculty, said Butz. Nevertheless, dorm life, open dining, and enclosed areas like classrooms means the ability to infect others with the flu remains a risk.
The Student Health Services website offers several tips to help protect against contracting the flu (https://www.albany.edu/health_center/healthadvisories.shtml) Those steps include staying home if you are not feeling well, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and washing your hands frequently.