The UF Student Health Care Center decided to schedule flu shots virtually this Fall to avoid having hundreds of people cluster outside of the student infirmary at the same time.
UF launched this year’s #GatorsFightFlu campaign through October, encouraging UF students, faculty and staff members to sign up online. But the efforts aren’t over. Students can and should sign up to get their shot soon, said UF SHCC director Dr. Ronald Berry.
Last year, hundreds of UF students walked up to the infirmary to get their flu shots, Meningitis B vaccines, snacks and a “Fight-the-flu” T-shirt as well, Berry said. This year, no treats were given and the process had to change to allow for social distancing amid COVID-19.
Berry said the SHCC has given more than 6,000 shots as of Nov. 5 at about 25 different locations across campus, of which close to 56% of the people have been younger than 34 years old.
“We will continue to give flu shots until we use up the supply,” he added.
Last year, UF gave a total of 7,800 flu shots. This year, UF SHCC ordered close to 12,000 flu shots and about 6,000 are still left, Berry said.
Berry worked with a UFIT team over the summer to design an online system that would allow people to schedule flu shots like COVID-19 tests, he said.
UF students, faculty and staff members can schedule their shot by clicking “flu shots” on the UF SHCC homepage, signing in with their credentials and choosing a 5-minute slot to visit the infirmary, Berry said.
When people arrive at the SHCC, a nurse asks them if they have gotten a flu shot before and if they have any allergies. If they have any, a different shot would be used, Berry said.
When students visit the infirmary for any other reason, they are asked if they want to get the flu shot during the same visit, Berry added.
It is possible to get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, but getting a flu shot protects people against one. It prevents them from going through bad two to three days that could be critical in their academic and personal development, Berry said.
Students, faculty and staff members are recommended to get the flu shot once a year, preferably in the Fall, Berry said. UF Health workers are required to get it every year by the end of October.
Rakpraporn Rottanasena, a 22-year-old UF Spanish senior, got a flu shot for the first time at the student infirmary when she was a sophomore. She did it by calling the UF SHCC, making an appointment, showing up and getting stung in the arm.
“It was super quick and easy,” Rottanasena said.
Although she hasn’t gotten her flu shot this year, Rottanasena said she plans on doing it and thinks other students should do it as well.
“It's to help protect others, especially people who are immunocompromised,” she said.