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Flu season is approaching — here’s where to get your vaccine at Brown

Health Services now hosting flu vaccine clinics for students in the OMAC

With the weather getting colder, flu season is rapidly approaching. To best prepare for potential flu outbreaks within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Services is hosting multiple flu vaccine clinics for students this October.

Health Services will offer 12 flu vaccine clinics in the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center between Oct. 7 and 30, Director of Nursing Christine Benvie wrote in an email to The Herald.

During this period, clinics will be held on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and students will have the option to receive the vaccine on the same day they are tested for COVID-19, Benvie wrote. All current University students with a student ID are eligible for these vaccines, regardless of whether they live on- or off-campus, she added. 

To ensure these clinics are held safely amidst the pandemic, mandatory mask-wearing policies for students and clinic staffers as well as physical distancing measures when possible will be in place, Benvie wrote. Hand sanitizer will also be available.

Health Services’ vaccine clinics also adhere to Rhode Island state vaccine guidelines. 

“Everyone aged six months and older … aside from rare exceptions” should get a vaccine “this — and every — flu season,” according to R.I. Department of Health Public Information Officer Joseph Wendelken. Adults aged 65 years and older, pregnant women, young children and people with underlying health conditions are at especially “high risk of serious complications from the flu,” he wrote in an email to The Herald.

Wendelken stressed that flu vaccines are “especially important this year,” as the flu and COVID-19 can have similar symptoms. “Getting a vaccine can reduce the severity of flu illness, missed school and work and can prevent overwhelming our healthcare system,” he wrote. Wendelken anticipates an increase in the number of people getting vaccinated this year, though complete data will only be available at the end of the 2020-21 flu season. 

Weldelken further noted that the “pandemic has compounded the risks” of the flu this season, though the possible causes and consequences of flu and COVID-19 co-infection are yet unclear. “We expect to learn more as the flu season progresses and public health experts are able to obtain (data),” he wrote.

To encourage flu shots, RIDOH is currently “developing a state-wide public media campaign,” according to Weldelken. Additionally, the state will strive to offer more opportunities for flu vaccinations through partnerships with “community-based organizations, schools, municipalities, pharmacies, insurance companies and our healthcare,” he wrote.

Similarly, Health Services is promoting flu vaccine clinics primarily through online platforms such as the Health Services website, Today@Brown, BWell wellness texts and social media, according to Benvie.

Outside of flu vaccine clinics, Health Services is continuing to use both telehealth and in-person services, The Herald previously reported. While health conditions appropriate for remote treatment are scheduled on telehealth, students can receive in-person care at Andrews House after being screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entering the building, Associate Clinical Director and Family Nurse Practitioner Tanya Sullivan DNP wrote in an email to The Herald. 


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