Over the summer, Albion College students received an email stating that they would be required to get a flu vaccine in order to continue taking classes at Albion this year. On Wednesday, the Office of the President sent the Albion community an email stating that college administration is working with the Calhoun County Health Department to offer the vaccination on campus in the beginning of October.
The college has made arrangements for the Calhoun County Health Department to come to campus and vaccinate those on campus. Those with a medical reason not to get the vaccine will be exempt only with a medical excuse from a health care provider. Other exemptions may be considered on an individual basis.
In the past, Albion has offered an optional on-campus flu vaccine for students and faculty With the current COVID-19 situation, the college strongly believes that flu shots are one more way to keep the Albion campus safe and healthy, which is why the requirement for all students, faculty and staff to get flu shots has been put in place.
“From 2019 to 2020, in the US, there were approximately 45 to 50 million cases of flu-like illness with 50,000 to 60,000 deaths,” said Cheryl Krause, former director for Student Health Services and current Student Development staff member, via email. “Flu shots are considered the most effective way to avoid the flu.”
The current plan is to have the flu shot available for the Albion community prior to the beginning of flu season, which is considered December through February in Michigan. Although no official dates have been announced yet, according to Krause, the college plans to have the vaccination available in early October. The goal is to have the campus fully vaccinated by early November.
Flu infections happen on campus every winter. Last February, Michigan had an Influenza outbreak that reached campus, which led to a negative effect on classroom attendance. When outbreaks happen, classes and activities can be cancelled to stop the flu from spreading further across campus. Losing valuable class time because of sickness is complicated by the module schedule.
“There are many reasons it is especially important to get flu shots this year, but the most important one is to avoid having both the flu virus and the COVID-19 virus on campus at the same time,” said Krause. “After the effort the Campus Community has put into preventing the spread of COVID-19 on campus this Fall, it needs to work equally as hard to prevent an outbreak of flu, which could also cause campus to shut down.”
The college has always encouraged flu shots for everyone on campus, but the flu shot requirement emphasizes that vaccinations are even more important to have this year due to COVID-19.
“Unfortunately, there is evidence that people can have both viruses at the same time increasing the chance of serious complications from the illnesses,” said Krause. “The flu shot procedure is quick and relatively painless. The protection it provides is good for the entire flu season. There is some evidence that wearing a mask to prevent COVID-19, may help decrease the spread of the flu also,” said Krause.