Ohio State strongly recommends flu shots for faculty, staff and students
Preventing flu hospitalizations is critical during ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
Ohio State University leaders are strongly encouraging faculty, staff and students on all campuses to get a flu shot this year.
“This year, the flu and COVID-19 will be circulating at the same time, increasing the risk of being exposed to both viruses. The combination of the two viruses could be life-threatening.
“This is why it is important — now more than ever — to get your flu shot to help keep you and your family, friends and peers healthy and safe,” according to a university-wide email sent today (Oct. 7) by Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron; Executive Vice President, Chancellor for Health Affairs and Wexner Medical Center CEO Harold Paz; Senior Vice President for Talent, Culture and Human Resources Susan Basso; and Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers.
This recommendation applies to all members of the community, whether they are living, learning and working on a campus or at home. Employees at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, some health sciences colleges and Student Health Services should follow existing enhanced compliance requirements.
“The flu season this year brings a new challenge to the COVID-19 pandemic: the need to prevent hospitalizations by reducing flu severity,” said Amy Fairchild, dean of the College of Public Health and chair of the Safe Campus and Scientific Advisory subgroup of the COVID-19 Transition Task Force.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual flu shots for anyone older than 6 months and for high-risk individuals and health care professionals.
“As a reminder, we adhere to safety precautions to protect not only ourselves, but also our family, friends and colleagues,” said Dr. Andrew Thomas, chief clinical officer for the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “With flu viruses and COVID-19 circulating at the same time during the flu season, it’s especially important to get a flu shot to reduce your risk from the flu and reduce the burden on our health care system during the pandemic.”
Some symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar, and both viruses spread from person to person, Thomas said, so flu cases could be mistaken for COVID-19 and drive up the need for coronavirus testing. A significant increase in the demand for tests has potential to put stress on COVID-19 testing capacity.
“We are fortunate that something as simple as a flu shot can help prevent people from getting sick, infecting others and avoid putting a strain on the health care system. Taking this step promotes the health of the entire community,” Fairchild said.
According to the CDC, the flu shot can reduce the risk of getting the flu by up to 60%, lessen the severity of symptoms in people who do get infected, and stop the spread of flu to others.
The university also encourages faculty and staff to take a 10-minute BuckeyeLearn online training course that explains the importance of flu prevention and how to stop the spread.
Details about where to get a flu shot are available on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.