Free flu shots available to Stanford community beginning Oct. 7

Stanford Occupational Health Center and Vaden Health Center are teaming up to safely bring flu immunization clinics to members of the campus community. Faculty, staff, retirees, postdocs and graduate and undergraduate students can receive free flu shots starting Oct. 7.

Stanford faculty, staff, retirees, postdocs and graduate and undergraduate students can begin receiving free flu shots starting Oct. 7 at locations at the main campus, Stanford Redwood City and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Stanford Occupational Health Center and Vaden Health Center are teaming up to safely bring flu immunization clinics to members of the campus community starting Oct. 7. (Image credit: American Academy of Pediatrics)

Participants are encouraged to make an appointment to assist with crowd management through the Stanford Flu website. Spouses and domestic partners of graduate or undergraduate students are also eligible to receive the vaccine for free. No vaccinations can be provided to children. Instead, parents are encouraged to speak with their children’s primary care provider or pediatrician to set up an appointment for vaccination.

Those interested in getting the vaccine will need to bring their Stanford identification with them.

Overall there will be fewer flu clinics this year compared to previous years. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, larger, open-air venues have been chosen to permit adequate spacing and promote infection control. Vaden and SUOHC will also be administering vaccines from the main clinic locations throughout the fall.

Employees who are working from home are also invited to participate in the flu clinics. Staff, faculty and postdocs who are not currently working on campus should notify their human resources manager of their visit, complete the COVID-19 Hygiene Best Practices training in STARS and take the Health Check before arriving on campus. Anyone Stanford-affiliated must also have their badge visible or easily accessible while on campus.

Importance of flu vaccinations

Medical and public health officials across the United States are emphasizing the importance of getting a flu shot this fall and winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that, with the risk of COVID-19 still circulating, people should protect themselves from such other respiratory illnesses as the flu.

The CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine in September or October, just prior to the start of flu season. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu.

“It’s important to remember that all ages are vulnerable to both the flu and COVID-19,” said Raj Puri, physician and director of Strategic Health Initiatives and Innovation at the Stanford University Occupational Health Clinic (SUOHC) and leader of the campus Health Check initiative.

“An individual can get one or the other, but also both,” he said. “This is the year to keep your immune system in top shape, as much as possible to prevent this from happening,” said Puri. “This includes performing all of the preventive COVID interventions, exercising, eating right, but also adding a flu vaccine to the arsenal. Multiple studies have shown that if one gets the vaccine and also the flu, their chances are greater to have a less severe illness if they contract the flu. In other words, you have a better chance at fighting the flu if you’ve already been vaccinated.”

Socially distanced clinics

Flu clinic organizers have been working with the Environmental Health & Safety’s Events Team to plan socially distanced clinics where members of the community can feel safe and protected while getting their flu shot. Physical distancing and mask requirements must be observed at all times by anyone on campus, as well as when attending a flu clinic.

“It’s predicted that both COVID and flu will spread more this fall and winter,” said Dr. Puri. He believes this is a result of more people spending time indoors. With the holidays just around the corner, people might get more relaxed in their social distancing and masking habits around friends and family.

“It is reassuring to know there have been low numbers of influenza infections worldwide this year, but it’s difficult to know how that can translate to the start of the U.S. flu season,” he said. “We strongly advise that everyone remain cautious and not to let their guard down, giving the virus an opportunity to infect.”

The flu vaccine cannot only reduce the likelihood of getting the flu, it can help to prevent others from getting the flu as well. Getting a flu vaccine can reduce the likelihood someone develops symptoms that appear to be COVID-19 or flu-like and decreases the burden of the healthcare system. Even after getting a flu shot, individuals should continue to wear a mask, wash their hands, social distance and stay home when they are ill.

“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to get a flu shot this year,” said Minal Moharir, clinical assistant professor of medicine and staff physician at SUOHC. “Flu shots can protect yourself and others from getting very sick. This year, it is important to do everything we can to keep each other healthy.”

Visit the Stanford Flu website.