Mercer to administer free flu shots to prevent ‘twindemic’

Mercer University will administer flu shots on campus in late October, according to an email to students from the university provost’s office Oct. 2.

“This year, more than ever, it’s important to get a flu shot,” a flyer attached to the email said. “The combination of flu and coronavirus carries higher health risks. Protect yourself, your friends and your colleagues by getting vaccinated for the flu.”

The vaccine will be available Oct. 21 and Oct. 28 in the Connell Student Center Lobby from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Shots will also be administered Oct. 22, 23, 26 and 27 in Heritage Hall of the University Center from 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

No appointments are necessary to receive a shot, and most insurance plans will cover the full cost of the vaccination, according to the email. The university will even offer an incentive to students who take advantage of the vaccines: entry in drawings for gift cards and special parking permits.

Health officials agree that flu shots are safe, effective and more important than ever as the United States faces a “twindemic” — concurrent outbreaks of the seasonal flu and COVID-19. While the flu shot will not prevent COVID-19 since it is a coronavirus strain and not an influenza strain, flu prevention will help individuals avoid becoming sick with both illnesses at once and reduce the burden on health care resources.

“This fall, an important reason to get a flu vaccine is to do your part to help conserve scarce medical resources as health care workers continue to fight COVID-19,” said Susan Bailey, president of the American Medical Association. “We need to realize that we are all interconnected, and during this pandemic, getting vaccinated is a step to protect our individual and collective health.”

Anyone over the age of six months should receive a flu shot and should do so by the end of October for maximum effect during flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention