University Health Services and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services are stressing the importance of getting flu shots, especially this year. DHS announced a new community outreach program Tuesday to increase education on the importance of being vaccinated against the flu.
Organizations across the state are encouraged to apply to receive funding for the program. Preference will be given to “groups that have been marginalized, underserved by health care and public health systems and/or have been disproportionately affected by influenza and/or COVID-19.”
“Now more than ever, getting your flu vaccine is one of the most important and proactive steps you can take to protect yourself, the people you love and people around you,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “Getting sick from the flu could result in hospitalization at a time when our frontline health workers are doing all they can to help COVID-19 patients recover.”
“Given the current pandemic’s impact on human life and health care resources, we need to protect ourselves and our communities from the flu by getting vaccinated,” said Interim State Health Officer Stephanie Smiley. “Getting vaccinated against the flu by Halloween is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against flu viruses.”
Gov. Evers and Secretary Palm launched a multi-media campaign with hopes to also increase awareness. The campaign will give Wisconsinites information about how to stop the spread of the coronavirus as well as the flu.
“By getting a flu shot, students are protecting themselves and their roommates, friends and family members from illness,” stated G. Patrick Kelly, the Interim Director and Chief Medical Officer at UHS. “The [flu] virus spreads slower in a highly immunized population. At this time, many things in our lives feel as though they are out of our control but getting a flu shot is one thing students can do to help themselves and others stay healthy.”
UHS is offering free flu shots to students administered by VaxPro, a company founded by UW-Madison alumni. For employees without insurance, the shot will cost $25 and is free to those with SHIP insurance.
“Getting a flu shot also supports academic success. You can miss up to five days of class due to the flu. Students should get vaccinated now,” stated Kelly. “It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.”
Despite Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s recent announcement regarding new restrictions on campus, UHS defines receiving the flu shot as an essential activity.
“The UHS scheduled flu shot clinics are not impacted by Chancellor Blank’s call for undergraduate students to limit their movements and the shift to remote instruction through September 25,” said Kelly.
Flu shot clinics are scheduled at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium and Nicholas Recreation Center during September and early October. Students can find more information at https://www.uhs.wisc.edu/medical/flu-shots/.
state news writer