Students weigh in on recently announced flu shot mandate

USC students, faculty and staff are required to get influenza immunization by Nov. 1

All USC students, faculty and staff are now required to get the influenza vaccine by Nov. 1, according to an announcement from the Student Health Office on Tuesday. The intent is to reduce the burden on healthcare systems amid the ongoing pandemic and to lessen the potential impact of both flu and COVID-19 cases.

Angie Ghanem-Uzqueda, a clinical epidemiologist at USC Student Health, said last year’s influenza season was fairly mild and hopes that this season will be as well. She attributed last year’s lower case count to COVID-19 precautions such as masks.

The influenza vaccine was also required last fall for students who lived on campus or were attending in-person classes. Last year was the first time that USC made influenza vaccines mandatory.

Dr. Sarah Van Orman, USC Chief Health Officer, said flu shots will be offered at all testing sites on campus. Additionally, USC Student Health is currently providing influenza tests based on symptoms at the Engemann Health Center and the Eric Cohen Student Health Center.

Some students appreciate the reasoning behind USC’s decision and its efforts to keep the community healthy.

“It’s not tyranny if they’re just trying to keep you safe and healthy,” said Olivia Difilippo, a senior public relations major. “I feel like everyone should want to be able to get out of this pandemic and not have to worry about being sick in general.”

The influenza vaccine requirement allows for approved medical or religious exemptions, like the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Students like Matthew Kim, a senior studying economics and accounting, aren’t concerned about the flu shot being mandatory and feel that it falls in line with the expectation for vaccination against COVID-19.

“I think it’s pretty standard,” Kim said. “It’s a step in the right direction, especially with everything that’s going on … USC required vaccines in the past, the flu vaccine and also the COVID vaccine, so I feel like people should be used to it by now.”

Though she doesn’t normally get the flu shot, Jazmin Mendez, a freshman majoring in civil engineering, plans to get one this year.

“The last time I got it [the flu shot] was elementary school,” Mendez said. “I don’t really get sick. I mainly use home remedies from my parents: tea, lots of fruit, soup, [vapor rub]. If we have a fever, my mom puts potatoes on her feet to absorb that and wet towels. I think [the requirement] is rather a good thing, but I’ve never really gotten the shot.”

USC is adding more vaccination appointment slots, but Van Orman said students should plan to get the shot off campus if they are unable to get an appointment. If students choose to get their vaccination at another location, such as a drug store, they will need to upload immunization proof to their student health chart.