University leaders strongly recommend that students, faculty and staff get flu shots this year — especially those individuals coming to CSUN’s campus.
CSU administrators are acting on recommendations from the California Department of Public Health, which recently stressed the importance of flu shots this year to reduce demands on health care facilities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The CSU Office of the Chancellor and CSUN strongly recommend that all students, faculty and staff obtain an influenza vaccination for the 2020-21 flu season, to help prevent infection with flu virus that could cause serious illness and even death — and to prevent the influenza virus’ spread to colleagues and classmates,” said Dr. Linda Chassiakos, director of CSUN’s Klotz Student Health Center. “Getting a flu shot this September or October may reduce your chances of getting influenza, and if you do get sick, your symptoms may be less severe.
“What’s more, this fall and winter, with the COVID-19 pandemic still active, it’s possible that individuals may become infected with both COVID-19 and influenza,” Chassiakos continued. “Per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), those at high risk for flu are also at higher risk for COVID-19, and they may end up needing hospitalization and intensive care. Preventing the flu with the flu shot keeps our health care system from being overwhelmed and keeps our community healthier.”
CSUN students, faculty and staff are encouraged to visit their doctors for their flu shot in September and October. Flu shots are also available at local pharmacies and are usually free of charge for individuals with insurance/MediCal. The Student Health Center will have a limited number of flu shots in stock in late September that will be offered at no charge to students without insurance or MediCal during the pandemic. Students who wish to schedule a flu shot appointment at the Student Health Center can call (818) 677-3666, Option 1.
CSUN employees are encouraged to obtain flu vaccination through their insurance plan via their primary care provider or local pharmacy if they can, which will potentially enable them to get their shots earlier and will also leave more of the Student Health Center supply for uninsured students. Many health insurance companies and community clinics provide free flu shots as well, with or without proof of insurance. Contact your health insurer or the County Department of Public Health for more information.
Most people should get the flu shot, with only a few exceptions, said Marisol R. Garcia, registered nurse lead at the Klotz Center Clinic Support Unit.
The CDC has detailed information about who should and shouldn’t get the shot. The CDC also has information about the 2020-21 flu season, including tips for safely getting the shot this year and how influenza vaccine can reduce infection risks from respiratory disease this fall and winter.
Flu shots will be available at the Klotz Center after the shipment arrives in September, Garcia said. Many clinics, doctors’ offices and pharmacies may have flu shots available sooner, she said.
It is important to get the flu vaccine every year because protection wanes over time, and each year different strains are more prevalent, Garcia said. As flu season will coincide with the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread flu immunization is important to prevent overrunning healthcare facilities, she said.
More than 1,000 people are being hospitalized each day with COVID-19, according to County of Los Angeles Public Health.
“If we don’t have high vaccination rates [with] the flu vaccine, then you could have a kind of storm of people who are ill from influenza — which can affect people severely even to the point of hospitalization, just like COVID — but then, you also have those who are ill with COVID,” Garcia said. “So, if we have people protected by the flu vaccine, then hopefully, fewer resources will be used that [should be] reserved for those with COVID.”
The California Department of Public Health’s guidance on flu shots was part of a series of recommendations for colleges and universities to prepare for reopening when conditions are safe.
CSUN’s fall semester is primarily virtual, with only a very small number of essential activities allowed to take place on campus. University leaders continue to evaluate data from the state Department of Public Health and consult with local public health officials, to make decisions about whether and how much to reopen campus for the spring 2021 semester. A decision will be announced later in the fall.
Information about CSUN’s fall semester plans is available at the CSUN as One website.