To help combat flu season, Cougar Health Services is offering Flu Shot Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through the month of October.
Aside from the flu shot, wearing masks and social distancing does help reduce flu cases to some extent. Last year, fewer students got the flu than usual, in part because of social distancing efforts, said Guy Palmer, regents professor of pathology and infectious diseases.
It is too early to tell how many people will get flu shots. However, Palmer said there is reason to believe flu vaccination rates will be low because most of the attention is on COVID-19.
“A year ago, we masked up and socially distanced, and we had a smaller amount of flu by far,” Palmer said. “But that won’t stop the flu completely.”
Ben White, freshman criminal justice major, currently has no plans to get the flu shot. White said he is unsure whether people not planning to receive the vaccine were influenced by COVID-19.
“I wouldn’t know if anyone won’t do it because of that,” White said. “But there are probably people who think that who aren’t loud about it.”
Palmer said a possible increase in the number of students getting the flu could negatively affect public health and nearby hospitals.
“We’re adding this on top of our already really strained hospitals,” Palmer said. “So that’s another concern.”
Palmer said some individuals assume they are protected against the flu despite not receiving the vaccine because they are taking extra safety precautions because of COVID-19.
Community members can expect a flare-up in flu cases if people do not receive the flu shot, he said. With students back on campus, getting the vaccine is the best protection against illness.
“Obviously, getting vaccinated will help by getting immunity across the whole community,” he said.
Students and faculty members can schedule an appointment to receive their flu shot through Cougar Health Services’ patient portal. Locations vary depending on the week.