By Camille Cox | Staff Writer
While Baylor continues to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to students, faculty and staff, the flu vaccine is also available through appointments or walk-ins.
According to Baylor Health Services, the flu shot is “the quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against four strains of flu and is covered by insurance.”
Dr. Sharon Stern, medical director of Baylor Health Services, said she believes the flu shot clinics can help facilitate a normal school year for students who participate.
“We have had flu shot clinics for decades, so it is always important,” Stern said. “In order to be able to be as healthy as possible and attend as many classes as possible, it is a good idea to get a flu shot every year.”
Flu cases in the country were comparatively lower last year, partly because of COVID-19 prevention procedures and the high vaccination rate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that “the low level of flu activity during this past season contributed to dramatically fewer flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths compared with previous flu seasons.”
According to the CDC, these findings come from a combination of COVID-19 mitigation processes — such as social distancing and masks — and “a record number of influenza vaccine doses (193.8 million doses) [being] distributed in the U.S. during 2020-2021.”
“Last year, we had barely any flu, and we’ve already seen a few cases of flu this year,” Stern said. “We probably will have a bigger amount of flu infections this year; it’s not surprising, as we were wearing masks and staying out of big groups.”
While the CDC will not have its completed data for the 2021-2022 flu season until next year, it has stated that the flu shot is safe to get with the COVID-19 vaccine simultaneously.
“It’s very easy to catch the flu, and it’s super contagious,” Stern said. “You don’t have to eat or drink after someone to catch it. You can catch it just by being close to them and talking to them, just like coronavirus.”
Houston sophomore Re’Elle Isales got her flu shot at the North Village Community Center.
“I believe that it helps me out a lot, and I heard there was a cough going around, and I don’t want to get the flu or get sick,” Isales said.
When entering the flu shot clinic, students must complete a consent form found on their health service portal, regardless of whether they made an appointment or walked in.
“I feel it makes other people safer and makes your life a little bit easier,” Isales said. “It was quick and easy.”
According to Stern, the clinics have been administering around 70 shots a day for students, faculty and staff. Those looking to get their flu shot can visit their Baylor health portal or walk into the daily clinic.
The CDC reported that it is a common misconception to believe that the flu shot could lead to the flu. The shot itself is made either from an inactive virus or with a single protein from the flu, making it a false claim that the shot could lead to the virus itself.
“I think that two things happen: one, people are more likely to get the flu shot during a bad flu year, and they’re also more likely to catch the flu because there’s more in the community, so they associate it in their mind that ‘I wouldn’t have gotten the flu if I hadn’t gotten the flu shot,’” Stern said. “The other thing is that some people go to clinics to get their flu shots where there are a lot of sick people in the waiting area, but that’s not the case in our flu shot clinics because they are in and out very quickly.”
Baylor Health Services will host another stand-alone clinic from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 14 in the first floor lobby of the Paul L. Foster Success Center.