Influenza Vaccines to Be Offered to GW Community

September 29, 2020
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A person receives a vaccine

Free influenza vaccines will be available to students, faculty, and staff at the George Washington University (GW) with on campus access this fall starting on Oct. 5. The clinics will run throughout October and will be located in close proximity to the university’s COVID-19 testing sites, providing the opportunity to get tested for COVID-19 and get vaccinated for flu in the same trip.

The flu vaccines were acquired by the university as part of its effort to prioritize the health and wellbeing of the GW community. Employees of The GW Medical Faculty Associates (GW MFA) are required to get flu vaccines, and faculty and staff at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) who are authorized to be on campus during the fall semester also are required to be vaccinated. Employees who are not authorized to be on campus this fall are not required to receive a vaccine, however, it is strongly recommended they get vaccinated.

“Even if you are not required to be on campus in the fall, you might be authorized to be on campus in the spring semester, and it will be required if you are returning to work,” said Raymond Lucas, MD, medical director of the new GW Occupational Health Program and associate professor of emergency medicine at SMHS. “In order to meet that requirement in January and protect yourself that the beginning of flu season, we encourage everyone to get a flu vaccine this fall.”

While the clinics are open and free to members of the GW community authorized to be on campus, it is not necessary to travel to campus to get a flu shot. Faculty and staff off campus should get the vaccine from their usual health care providers or at other locations, such as local pharmacies. Flu vaccines are covered by most insurance plans, with no out-of-pocket cost to the patient. Employees who receive their flu shot outside of the GW clinics will be able to upload documentation to show that they’ve met the requirement to receive the vaccine.

In addition, all GW MFA and GW Hospital employees should receive their influenza vaccine through the employee health programs at each of those institutions rather than the university’s clinics to avoid crowding.

“Getting a flu vaccine is so important this year as there are many overlapping symptoms between influenza and COVID-19 infection, such as fever, cough, and body aches,” Lucas said. “If we can prevent people from coming down with these respiratory illnesses, there will be fewer people seeking care in the health care system.”

Employees aged 65 and older will require a higher-dose vaccine that also will be available at the clinic sites. Additionally, there will be provisions for community members to be exempted for established religious or medical reasons, such as a prior vaccine allergy or a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The vaccine clinics are organized by the GW Occupational Health Program with volunteers from the GW School of Nursing who will be on-site to administer the vaccines.

Flu vaccines will be available on the Foggy Bottom Campus at Shenkman Hall on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus at Enterprise Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 6, Oct. 8, Oct. 9, Oct. 13, Oct. 15, and Oct. 16.

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