Flu vaccinations available to students, employees

New policy this year requires vaccines for everyone working with or near patients

Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 1, seasonal flu vaccines will be available to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis employees and students. Vaccines also will be available to students and some employees on the Danforth Campus.

New this year, the vaccine is required for all students and employees on both campuses who engage in patient care or work in buildings where patient care is provided or clinical research occurs.

School of Medicine students can receive free flu shots on a walk-in basis from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at the School of Medicine’s Student Health Service, Room 3420 of the East Building, 4525 Scott Ave. For more information, students should call (314) 362-3523.

School of Medicine employees can receive a shot at no charge at one of several scheduled clinics.

Flu shots will be available to students on the Danforth Campus who make an appointment with Habif Health & Wellness Center, which can be reached at (314) 935-6666.

A limited number of flu shots for Danforth employees are available for those who already requested them through Human Resources.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine annually. This year’s trivalent vaccine protects against the three main flu strains that researchers predict will cause the most illness during the 2013-2014 flu season.

According to the CDC, flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States in January or February but can begin as early as October and end as late as May.

Kelley Mullen, senior director of clinical operations at the School of Medicine, urges everyone to get vaccinated. “People should get vaccinated — if not for themselves, for everyone around them, including their families,” she said. “Older and younger family members are at higher risk for catching the flu and more susceptible to complications from the virus.”

In addition to the vaccine, the CDC recommends taking these everyday steps to prevent the spread of flu:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick so you don’t infect others.
• Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
• Wash your hands thoroughly and often. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose.
• Practice general good-health habits: Disinfect frequently touched surfaces; get plenty of sleep; exercise; manage stress; drink fluids; and eat nutritious food.

Learn more about the university’s flu shot policies.