flu shot

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Health Center is hosting a student flu shot clinic, urging UNL students to take advantage of getting a free flu shot during the coronavirus pandemic.

Britt Otte, clinic manager at the University Health Center, said the student flu shot clinics will be recurring every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday during October at the Campus Recreation Center. The clinic will run Oct. 7-30. The flu shots are free for all UNL students, according to Otte.

Otte said there will also be a clinic on East Campus at the Nebraska East Union on Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to noon. Otte said the clinic on east campus will operate the same as the clinic at the Campus Rec Center. Students will have to register for the clinics ahead of time, according to Otte.

Heather Eberspacher, medical director at the University Health Center, said there are many similarities between the symptoms of the coronavirus and influenza. Eberspacher said the more people who receive a flu shot and avoid contracting influenza, the easier it is to quickly identify those who are at a higher risk of carrying COVID-19.

Eberspacher said an individual can get both influenza and the coronavirus concurrently, which is a much more dangerous situation.

“Whatever we can do to minimize that, it’s going to keep people out of the hospital and healthier,” Eberspacher said.

Eberspacher said it is important for college students to receive a flu shot because students live and socialize in such close proximity to each other. Because of this, viruses like influenza typically spread rather quickly on campus, and even more so during the winter months.

With the fall semester condensed this year, Eberspacher said it is going to be crucial for students to stay healthy. Eberspacher also said students cannot afford to be sick for a week or more because they cannot attend classes or participate in schoolwork. 

“The more that we can keep them healthy, the better they are going to be able to succeed in the condensed curriculum,” Eberspacher said.

Otte said in the past years, students, staff and faculty did not have to register for a time and date for their flu shot, but prior registration is now required to limit the amount of people waiting in close proximity to one another.

There will be dots on the floor to provide spacing when individuals are waiting for their flu shot, and there will be a larger space where the shot is given this year, according to Otte.

Otte said on the University Health Center website and on flyers across campus, there is a QR code students can scan that will bring up the sign-up page for the clinic. Otte said on the sign-up page, students can register for a time and date. 

Students will download and print the Influenza Vaccination Form and bring the filled out form to their appointment, according to Otte. If a student does not bring the form, they will also be provided at the Rec center.

Students will also need to bring their NCard to their appointment, according to Otte.

If students are under 18, they need parental permission to receive a flu shot. These students will need to bring a Power of Attorney form to their appointment, according to Otte, which is also available on the sign-up site.

Otte said she believes there were around 5,000 flu shots given last year, but they were not all from the walk-in flu clinic that was available. Otte said she believes the number was around 2,200 from the walk-in clinic last year.

Eberspacher said students should take advantage of the clinic since it is on campus and students can fit it into their schedule easily.

Otte said in most cases, students can register for a flu shot the same day they plan to attend since there are many spots available, and the flu shot itself typically takes about two minutes.

“Since we are making it readily available and it is absolutely free of charge, I can’t think of a reason not to get it.” 

This story was modified at 1:03 p.m. on Oct. 16, 2020, to correct who is eligible for a free flu shot.