Opinions generic

As we continue to be inundated with news and information related to the global COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are not thinking about prevention of the common flu. As your UF Student Health Care Center Director, I would like to encourage all students, faculty and staff who have not been vaccinated against the flu to consider doing so as soon as possible. 

The flu shot can go a long way toward keeping you and others healthy. It is effective and of no cost to you, and side effects are minimal if they occur at all. If you choose to get vaccinated through UF, the Student Health Care Center offers a variety of appointment times and locations and adds new options frequently. I urge you to sign up for your appointment through UF’s portal and to come to your appointment with your UFID and insurance card. 

So far, UF has administered almost 6,000 flu shots, with many more students, faculty and staff getting vaccinated at their own providers or other eligible locations. This is good news, but we are behind compared to last year when we gave more than 8,000 flu shots by the end of October. Flu season in Gainesville at times arrives in December, but frequently our peak is in January or February. We want to prevent as many people as possible from getting sick and spreading the flu virus to others. We will continue to give flu shots over the next several months and our goal this year is to give 12,000 flu shots.

While getting a flu shot benefits you personally, it also benefits the larger UF community. Minimizing the number of people who have the flu so it is not spread to those who have weakened immune systems will decrease the need for hospitalization and makes for a healthier community. This is of particular importance during the current COVID-19 pandemic and can ease potential strain on our healthcare systems.

We can all agree it has been a strange year with a lot of uncertainty. Every one of us has been impacted in some way by COVID-19, and that is likely to continue until a coronavirus vaccine is widely available. Getting a flu shot is one way to help take care of yourself and ease any potential stress associated with getting sick, but on a grander scale, it can help protect your family, your friends and play a small but significant role in protecting our greater UF community during this tumultuous time.

If you have already gotten your flu shot this season, I thank you. If you have not, please do.

Dr. Ron Berry is Director of the University of Florida Student Health Care Center. You can make an appointment for a flu shot here.