Harvard University Health Services opened flu clinics two weeks ago as the University urges Harvard affiliates to get vaccinated ahead of a flu season expected to stress healthcare systems already burdened by COVID-19.
Many medical experts worry that two contagious respiratory diseases will circulate widely in the coming months, as flu season begins and the coronavirus pandemic persists pending approval of a vaccine.
HUHS Chief Medical Officer Soheyla D. Gharib wrote that this year’s flu shot is “more important than ever.”
“As we head into this year’s flu season, getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever to protect yourself and the people around you, and to reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to COVID-19,” Gharib wrote in an emailed statement.
“Both the flu and COVID-19 are respiratory illnesses and they can lead to significant complications, so we strongly encourage everyone in our community, from faculty, students, and staff, to get the flu vaccine, regardless of where you are located,” she added.
Until the end of this month, HUHS flu vaccination clinics — located at the Science Center Plaza and the New Research Building in Longwood — are open to anyone with a Harvard University ID or enrolled in a University health plan. The Longwood location is open through Oct. 27 and the Science Center location through Oct. 29.
Students enrolled in colleges and universities in Massachusetts are required by state regulations to receive flu vaccination by Dec. 31.
To comply with the state mandate, Harvard students living on campus must be vaccinated by the year’s end, according to the HUHS website. Students in residence who do not adhere to the immunization requirements will have registration holds placed on their student accounts after Dec. 31 until they receive a documented flu vaccine.
Students living off campus, while “highly encouraged” to get the flu shot, will not be subject to registration holds if they choose to forgo vaccination, the website states.
“Students play a critical role in keeping our community safe, and we’re looking to them to help keep Harvard healthy by getting their vaccine,” Gharib wrote.
—Staff writer Alex M. Koller can be reached at email@example.com.