A University of Alabama campaign to vaccinate faculty, staff and students against the flu this year kicks off in September.
The vaccination effort will be led by University Medical Center and the Student Health Center, which are both operated by the College.
Beginning September 4, University Medical Center nurses, and additional nurses hired for the vaccination effort, will begin visiting buildings across campus. Vaccination stations will be set up in building lobbies, and nurses will also go to employee offices to provide vaccinations. The idea is to make getting this year’s flu shot as convenient as possible.
The vaccination, which will be in injection form, will be free. Employees do not need to have University health insurance to receive a flu shot. The University has purchased enough injections for 8,000 people.
“This is a huge undertaking,” says Elizabeth Cockrum, MD, clinical director of University Medical Center and the College’s associate dean for Clinical Affairs. “But our goal is to knock on doors and to make this as easy and convenient as possible.”
Nurses will travel from building to building on campus during the first several weeks of September, eventually visiting nearly every building on campus. Toward the end of the month, tents will be set up on the University’s Quadrangle and in faculty and staff parking lots and flu shots will be offered before and after work hours.
A schedule listing vaccination sites, times and dates will be announced closer to the start of the campaign and will be included on the University’s Campus Calendar.
Vaccinations will also be offered at University Medical Center’s Faculty and Staff Clinic, at the University’s WellBama sites, which are in various locations on campus, and at the Oct. 10 University of Alabama Employee Health Fair, while supplies last.
The University has approximately 4,000 employees.
In early October, nurses from the Student Health Center will be available at the Ferguson Center and will visit the University’s dormitories to provide flu shots to students.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone aged six months and older get a flu vaccine each year. The CDC says getting a flu shot is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications if they get sick with the flu, including: people with asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease; pregnant women; and people aged 65 and older. The CDC also says people who live with or care for others who are at risk of developing serious complications from the flu should also be vaccinated.
“Getting a flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease,” Cockrum says.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming flu season. Risks associated with receiving a flu shot are extremely small, and the viruses in the flu shot are inactivated so they cannot cause the flu.
Cockrum says a flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing and it is not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. The flu vaccine is formulated each year to keep up with flu viruses as they change.
Flu season can begin as early as October. For more information about seasonal flu shots visit the CDC website.