ASUU Implements Flu Shot Initiative to Help Stop Spread of Seasonal Influenza, COVID-19

ASUU launches marketing campaign to get more students vaccinated against the flu and alleviate further strain on the current health system

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Jack Gambassi

The entrance to a drive up flu shot area in a parking lot off of N Campus Dr. and Central Campus Dr. in Salt Lake City on Nov. 13, 2020 (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Jack O'Leary, Staff Writer

 

Every year, between nine and forty-five million Americans get sick with the flu according to the Center for Disease Control. This year, the flu season comes at a time when hospitals and healthcare providers are already under pressure from COVID-19, which has seen large increases of cases in recent weeks.

ASUU’s Wellness Committee along with the Student Resources board have started an initiative to inform students on how and where they can go to get a flu shot, and ways to encourage all students to go get vaccinated. 

The University of Utah is also asking all students to get tested for COVID before leaving for Thanksgiving break.

“It’s important this year, especially just because, although the flu shot doesn’t necessarily prevent COVID, it can definitely help reduce the strains on the hospitals. Since it’s something that can be prevented and because of COVID, we definitely want to alleviate some stress on the hospitals, and also just protect other people around us who aren’t able to get the flu shot,” said Wellness Committee Chair junior Jaina Lee.

In previous years, the wellness committee has worked with the U Nursing School and the Center for Student Wellness to actually give out flu shots to students, but because of COVID-19, the committee has had to adapt the way they roll out this initiative.

“Since ASUU has done things in the past with the CSW, Jaina and I really just wanted to focus on getting information out about the resources related to students and, again, like the majority of this is going to be through marketing so we basically just worked together to compile as much information as we could,” senior and ASUU Director of Student Resources Shelby Cattani said.

In late October, the Division of Student Affairs and the Residence Hall Association provided 200 flu shot vaccines at two separate clinics for free, primarily for underinsured or uninsured students to get the vaccine.

“I know most students are covered by health insurance and so the flu shot is free for a lot of people, but we wanted to acknowledge that a lot of students may not have the same opportunity of being covered by insurance or being able to easily pay for all those things, so we came up with a tip sheet where we kind of compiled different resources for students to get the flu shot and have it be a little bit cost-effective,” Lee said.

At the U Student Health Center, those on campus who are covered by student health insurance can get a shot for free, but those who are covered under different types of insurance or those who have no coverage have to pay $25 for the vaccine. Prices can vary from $25 to $30 or even $40 at some pharmacies depending on location and insurance coverage.

“Initially, we were trying to help students get reimbursed for their flu shots, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do it this year. I think we’re looking to, hopefully, push for something next year is what I was understanding we’re trying to look into more alternatives and to see how we can get flu shots covered for students or even administer them,” Lee said.

According to Lee, the initiative is not a one-time event, but more of a “continual push of awareness” to ensure students have up-to-date information on how they can get a flu shot, what pharmacies offer shots at low prices, and when to get flu shots.

“The goal is to take every precautionary measure possible to slow down the rate of transmission of COVID and overall keeping are derived of who we govern right as students healthy,” said ASUU Chief of Staff senior Mihali Sergakis.

U of U Health is also offering drive-through flu shot clinics from Nov. 3 to Dec. 17 at the Merrill Engineering Building on campus for students and the general public to get vaccinated.

 

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