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UHS offers vaccination at first Flu Vaccine Blitz of semester

| Thursday, October 1, 2020

Notre Dame’s Flu Vaccine Blitz is taking place from Tuesday to Thursday. Students were required to reserve a time to receive their vaccine at the Gate B Stadium Concourse set-up. Though all slots are filled for this Blitz, a second round of vaccinations will be offered later in October, according to the University.

Cindi Schwartz, assistant director of clinical operations for the University Health Services (UHS), said receiving the flu shot is more urgent than ever this year.

“For the upcoming flu season, the flu vaccine will be very important to reduce the overall impact of respiratory illness on the population,” she said in an email.

There are many reasons to get routine vaccinations this year, Schwartz said.

“Routine vaccination prevents illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical visits and hospitalizations, which can further strain the healthcare system,” she said. “Routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for protecting individuals from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks, including the seasonal flu.”

Cristian Koepfli, an assistant professor of biology at Notre Dame, studies the molecular epidemiology infectious diseases. He echoed Schwartz’s message of importance in getting a flu vaccine, particularly during COVID-19.

“This year, we need to keep the capacity for testing available for those that really need it,” he said. “Now if we don’t get vaccinated and we get the flu and undergo coronavirus testing, we may take a test away from someone else who maybe is infected with coronavirus. Then they have to wait longer until this person knows whether to quarantine or not.”

Koepfli said time is an important factor when taking actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If it takes a patient too long to get a test, he said, they will “meet other people and spread the virus.”

“Avoiding having these symptoms really helps us to have test capacity for those that are infected with coronavirus and we don’t have a vaccine. Our only line of defense is fast testing and isolating the people that are infected,” Koepfli said.

Notre Dame graduate student Sheiny Tjia-Fleck got her flu vaccination Tuesday. She said she usually gets the flu vaccine through her provider, “but since now my provider is through UHS [University Health Services], I just got it here.”

Tjia-Fleck said she had some difficulties while registering for an appointment due to a lack of availability for extended periods of time.

“I couldn’t register until [Tuesday] morning and then when I realized I was finally able to, there was only one spot available, which was at 1 p.m.”

However, once she got to the appointment, the whole process took “less than five minutes.”

First year Aryel Carreon also got a flu vaccination Tuesday.

“I think every year since 2016 I’ve been getting my flu shot,” he said. “I know my grandma’s pretty susceptible to any virus. … I’m trying to make sure that she’s healthy and she’s not going to get it from me.”

He also said the actual vaccination process followed proper health procedures and felt safe while getting his vaccination.

Elizabeth Prater | The Observer
The Gate B Stadium Concourse is set up for students who are scheduled to receive flu vaccinations.

Schwartz said extra precautions are being taken at the vaccination administration site to ensure the overall safety of everyone involved.

“Those arriving will need to show a green pass from their daily health check, wear a mask and physically distance,” she said. “Staff providing vaccines will be in [Personal Protective Equipment].”

Students are not required to receive their vaccination at the University-sponsored site.

“Students may also go off campus to receive their flu vaccine through a local primary care provider, pharmacy or walk-in clinic,” Schwartz said. “Simply need to provide documentation of receiving the flu vaccine via their UHS Patient Portal.”

More details for the next Flu Vaccine Blitz will be released soon, Schwartz said.

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