Seasonal Influenza Vaccination, COVID-19, and other Respiratory Illnesses

 

Sept. 8, 2022

TO:     All Students, all faculty, all university staff

FR:

Sarah Van Orman, MD MMD FACHA; Chief Health Officer, USC Student Health, Keck Medicine of USC; Associate Vice Provost; Division Chief for College Health, Keck School of Medicine

Deona Willes, MPH, CLS, Executive Director, USC Environmental Health and Safety

RE:   Seasonal Influenza Vaccination, COVID-19, and other Respiratory Illnesses

As we enter the influenza season, we strongly recommend that all USC students, faculty, and university staff receive vaccinations for the 2022-2023 influenza season.

Getting your flu vaccination will help mitigate the potential simultaneous impact of flu and COVID-19 during the seasonal respiratory illness timeframe in the fall/winter months. Exact timing of flu season may vary, but activity often begins to increase in October; flu activity typically peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May. Learn more key facts from the CDC.

FOR STUDENTS: How to get vaccinated on the campuses

  • during medical appointments in USC Student Health
  • at the UPC Farmer’s Market “Well-being and Health” Corner run by Student Health (Wednesdays, 11:30 AM – 2 PM, Sept. 28 – Nov. 9)
  • by appointment through our Immunizations Dept., Make an appointment in MySHRunder “Immunizations.”

NOTE: Students on SHIP/Aetna do not have out-of-pocket costs. Students on other insurances will be charged $20 on their student account if administered by USC Student Health. This may be reimbursable by your insurance, please check with your insurance plan. Students who receive vaccinations through off-campus providers should save a copy of their record showing their name, date of birth, and vaccine/date administered and upload in the “Upload Documentation” section of the MySHR portal.

FOR FACULTY AND UNIVERSITY STAFF: How to get vaccinated on the campuses

  • Beginning Monday, Sept. 12, flu vaccines will also be available at the USC Pharmacies—Student Union (UPC), Medical Plaza (HSC), Verdugo Hills (Glendale) locations. Appointments are preferred, walk-ins are also accepted. Vaccinations through USC Pharmacies are automatically updated in your employee health records in MySHR. This may take one week to be reflected in your records.

NOTE: USC Health Plans is sponsoring flu vaccinations with no “out-of-pocket” costs for USC employees at the USC Pharmacies. Additionally, employees and their dependents enrolled in USC PPO, EPO Plus, or EPO plans can visit any contracted Navitus pharmacy and have their flu vaccination fully covered (must present their plan ID card); or they may visit their primary care physician and have this covered under their medical benefits as preventive care service.

 

Why Take the Flu Vaccine?

  • Flu and COVID-19 often can present similar respiratory symptoms; receiving a flu vaccine will help with an accurate and timely diagnosis if you become ill.
  • Flu can cause significant disruptions in academics and the workplace. For example, students with influenza often miss 7-10 days of class. Preventing the flu can help prevent this lost time and impact.
  • September and October are optimal times for receiving the flu vaccine, as it takes approximately 2 weeks for your immune system to create antibodies for protection. Don’t delay; if you have an opportunity to get vaccinated for flu, take it!

Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette Reminder

As a reminder, please continue to use recommended hygiene practices for respiratory illnesses: cover your cough or sneeze (nose and mouth) with a tissue; wash or sanitize your hands; and remember that masking indoors and in crowded settings is recommended. If you are sick, please stay home.

COVID-19 Illness: What should I do?

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, use an antigen test to confirm your COVID-19 status. Students may obtain antigen test kits from the Customer Service Centers in USC Housing, or from the Pop Testing sites in Jefferson Lot (UPC) and Pappas Quad (HSC).

If you test positive, you must complete the Contact Tracing Form in MySHR. Completing this form will generate an auto-response with instructions and a link to obtain student isolation accommodations.

COVID-19 Boosters

Recently, the FDA and CDC have also made key announcements on COVID-19 bivalent booster shots for the Pfizer (Comirnaty) and Moderna (Spikevax) COVID-19 vaccines. The bivalent boosters are formulated to protect against the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron that have been the current dominant strains.

USC Pharmacies has temporarily paused the booster program for COVID-19 on the University Park Campus (UPC); guidance for administering the vaccine is under review. Additional messaging will be sent when the booster program resumes on UPC.

Recommendation

We strongly urge you, your peers, and your loved ones to get the flu vaccine. It offers real benefits — reducing illnesses, medical appointments, and missed classes, work, and other activities due to flu, as well as preventing flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.

If you have questions about the flu vaccine or COVID-19 booster shots, contact studenthealth@usc.edu.

We thank you in advance for your cooperation in keeping everyone healthy and safer from flu and other respiratory illnesses.