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Message from Dr. Ralph Manchester on the importance of getting a flu shot this year

October 26, 2020
Flagpole with "Meliora" inscription on the Eastman Quad with Ruh Rhees Library in the background.(University of Rochester photo)

The following message was sent to faculty and staff in Arts, Sciences & Engineering from Dr. Ralph Manchester,  Vice Provost and Director University Health Service, and is being shared with the broader University community:

I want to take this opportunity to emphasize the importance of receiving the seasonal flu vaccine this year, for your health this winter and as part of the University’s ongoing efforts to keep our campus safe and open for residential learning.

For your personal health, flu shots offer the best and safest way to fight and prevent the spread of the illness. Flu shots aren’t perfectly effective for every person every year, but they do offer the best protection to get you through the flu season months, and the vaccination does not cause the flu. Some people may react to it with a sore arm or feel achy afterwards, but this is much better than coming down with influenza, which can cause serious health complications, especially for those in high-risk groups.

For the health of the University community, receiving a flu shot is even more important now during the COVID-19 pandemic.  UHS is currently managing a full program of COVID-19 testing and prevention efforts on top of regular patient appointments, and the addition of a potential flu outbreak within the University community would significantly strain our ability to see and care for all patients in need. And because symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu are similar—both often including fever/chills, cough, sore throat and congestion—it can be difficult to immediately distinguish which virus a patient may have, and this investigation period can quickly max out the quarantine and isolation spaces we have available to students.

We are now in the recommended window to get flu vaccine—early enough that it will have time to work, but not so early that we run the risk of less protection in the spring. I am encouraging faculty and staff to obtain their flu vaccine in one of the following ways:

  • Pharmacy walk-ins. This may be the easiest way for a lot of faculty and staff, since many are still working remotely away from campus. With most all health insurance plans, there is no cost when you visit a pharmacy such as CVS, Walgreens, or Wegmans to receive a flu shot.
  • Attend a campus flu clinic. Faculty and staff may schedule an appointment for a flu shot at
    • Tuesday, October 27, 3 to 5:30 p.m., River Campus
    • Thursday, October 29, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Eastman School of Music.
  • Visit your primary care doctor. Your family doctor(s) should have available the vaccine for you and your family. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone ages 6 months or older, and a high-dose vaccine may be available to individuals ages 65 years or older.

As a University community, we should all be proud that our collective vigilance is helping to keep the rate of illness and COVID-19 infections low on our campuses. Getting your flu shot is one more way that you can contribute to these efforts while helping to ensure your own good health in the coming months.

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