Jackson Tini, a first-year biology main, stated he obtained his flu shot for the primary time final Friday on the Scholar Well being Middle. Tini stated he didn’t get a shot earlier than as a result of he “by no means felt prefer it was crucial,” however this 12 months — amid the COVID-19 pandemic — he discovered a purpose.
“I plan on volunteering in hospitals quickly and so they require [a flu shot],” Tini stated. “But additionally if it may well assist handle COVID-19 this winter, I’ll do it.”
With flu season on the horizon and the continuing coronavirus pandemic, specialists and well being officers are stressing the significance of flu photographs. In line with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, throughout the 2019-20 flu season, about 39 million to 56 million Individuals caught the flu, and 24,000 to 62,000 individuals died.
Pitt is taking steps to get the flu photographs to college students even amid the pandemic. Marian Vanek, the chief director of Scholar Well being Companies, stated Pitt has ordered 7,000 doses of the flu vaccine with the power to order extra if wanted.
Vanek stated Pitt is internet hosting 4 free flu shot clinics below a tent on the COVID-19 testing website outdoors Posvar Corridor. Whereas the primary clinic was accomplished on Tuesday, the three remaining clinics will likely be held on Sept. 29, Oct. 13 and Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. to four p.m. College students should ebook appointments at the least a day prematurely. She stated flu photographs are additionally supplied each day, by appointment solely on the Scholar Well being Middle in Nordenberg Corridor.
Vanek added that each one enrolled college students are eligible — and inspired — to obtain a free flu vaccine.
“Be good to your self and your neighborhood,” Vanek stated. “Get a flu vaccine.”
Due to COVID-19 security precautions and to make sure acceptable social distancing, Vanek stated all flu shot appointments should be scheduled both on-line through Scholar Well being’s Affected person Portal or by calling 412-383-1800. All crucial paperwork is to be accomplished on-line and should be completed by 9 a.m. the day of the appointment.
Goundappa Balasubramani, a analysis affiliate professor in epidemiology, stated getting a flu shot is very vital this 12 months. He stated the mixture of COVID-19 and the flu might be harmful to the already overburdened well being care system.
“This 12 months, if a COVID-19 surge overlaps with a flu surge the medical system could also be stretched past its assets to look after the sick,” Balasubramani stated. “Although the influenza vaccine won’t stop COVID-19, it is going to assist decrease the danger of getting sick and needing influenza-related medical care and forestall hospitalization.”
Balasubramani additionally stated that whereas the flu and COVID-19 share comparable signs comparable to coughing, fever and shortness of breath, COVID-19 is extra deadly. Nonetheless, each may be lethal.
Tini stated in gentle of the coronavirus pandemic, he thinks it can be crucial that Pitt and different places provide free and accessible flu photographs.
“I believe it is rather good how accessible the flu shot is right this moment. Many locations provide it for both free or for a really low price,” Tini stated. “It permits individuals who would often be unable to afford it to get preventative remedy if wanted.”
This isn’t the primary 12 months Pitt has carried out a flu vaccine marketing campaign. Vanek stated on the Wholesome U Truthful, Scholar Well being Companies would usually administer 1,400 to 1,600 vaccines, and final 12 months it set a file of 1,700 vaccines. She stated Scholar Well being would additionally usually host “touring flu clinics” throughout campus and had drop-in hours on the Scholar Well being Middle. Altogether, Vanek stated Pitt usually administers 7,000 to eight,000 doses per 12 months.
Balasubramani stated this 12 months, these measures are much more crucial with the potential for co-infection, or contracting COVID-19 and the flu on the similar time. Lower than half of faculty college students are usually vaccinated, in accordance with a survey from the Nationwide Basis of Infectious Ailments.
“Basically, each influenza season thousands and thousands of persons are affected with influenza illness within the U.S. and a number of other thousand individuals die of this illness yearly,” Balasubramani stated. “With the brand new SARS-CoV-2 virus an estimated 6.5 million individuals have been contaminated and greater than 200,000 deaths have occurred within the U.S. thus far. The results of co-infection could also be a couple of would anticipate.”
Balasubramani additionally stated that populations at the next danger of significant flu issues, comparable to these with bronchial asthma, diabetes, continual lung circumstances, weight problems and metabolic syndrome, ought to get vaccinated “instantly.”
The College has had 251 college students and 30 workers check optimistic for COVID-19 since June 26, with 209 college students and 29 workers recovered to date. Pitt added 13 new circumstances, composed of 12 college students and one worker, between Friday and Monday.
Balasubramani stated he’s hopeful that if individuals comply with all COVID-19 mitigation steps, like social distancing and masks carrying, there’ll truly be a lower in flu circumstances this 12 months.
“There’s hope this 12 months that because of the COVID-19 measures like masks compliance, social distancing and hand hygiene in place for this pandemic, the flu won’t unfold as a lot,” Balasubramani stated.