USC announced Tuesday that all students will be required to receive another vaccine — the flu shot. They required students to receive the flu vaccine for the first time ever last fall amid a twin flu and COVID-19 outbreak.
This year will be no different.
The mandate comes as flu season approaches with the coming months being the best time to get the shot, USC Chief Health Officer Sarah Van Orman explained in an email to students.
USC students, faculty and staff will be required to be vaccinated by Nov. 1 and their vaccination status will be reflected via Trojan Check.
“[The] flu can cause significant disruptions in academics. Students with influenza often miss 7-10 days of class. Preventing the flu can help prevent this lost time and impact,” Van Orman said in the email.
Van Orman also emphasized that the vaccine requirement would alleviate the potential clash of both influenza and COVID-19 patients.
“A flu vaccine this season can also help reduce the burden on our healthcare systems in responding to COVID-19 cases. Saving medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients is a way we can all contribute to community health,” she said.
Students can schedule flu vaccine appointments through the MySHR student health portal under the “Immunizations” tab. The shot is free of charge to those on USC student health insurance, while others must pay $20. Flu vaccines are also available at local pharmacies, such as the CVS in the USC Village Target.
After making an appointment, students can receive the vaccine at the Pardee, Jefferson Lot, and Pappas Quad testing centers as well as at Engemann and Eric Cohen Student Health Centers.
Van Orman mentioned that students who make a COVID-19 testing appointment will also be able to get an influenza vaccine at testing sites without an additional appointment. Like the Covid-19 vaccine, students can receive a medical or religious exemption after uploading a form to their MySHR portal.
USC will not require students with the flu to quarantine or isolate like they would if they were diagnosed with Covid-19. That being said, Van Orman suggests students who are feeling ill should follow Covid protocols.
“What we have in place right now for COVID-19 is really what we should always be doing for other respiratory illnesses, in particular influenza,” Van Orman said in a Thursday interview with Annenberg Media. “So the idea that people who are experiencing acute respiratory illnesses with fever, cough, all of that should stay home, is good advice every day of the year.”
Some students expressed support for the mandate.
“I wouldn’t have a problem with that as I think vaccines are good in general,” said Aidan Barringer, a graduate student studying film. “I get mine almost every year.”
Van Orman also references a CDC guideline stating that receiving both the influenza and COVID-19 vaccine is safe.
Layne Paterson, a senior majoring in communications, said, “I would encourage people to get the flu shot if they are comfortable with it. I’ve always gotten it because it’s helped prevent me from getting the flu.”