As flu season approaches, Cornell has decided to continue its annual partnership with Wegman’s Pharmacy to encourage community members to get vaccinated in order to reduce flu rates on campus.
Cornellians can participate in flu vaccination clinics at Cornell Health on Ho Plaza from now until November 15. Though the clinics are open to all, only students, staff, faculty and retirees can participate for free. View the clinic schedule and sign up for a clinic timeslot here.
“We strongly recommend that students get their flu shot every year because of how quickly and easily influenza can spread on a college campus and in shared living environments,” said Dr. Jada Hamilton, Medical Director and Interim Chief of Clinical Operations and Services at Cornell Health.
The CDC recommends that the public, especially college students, receive their flu vaccinations before the end of October. Though the flu circulates year round, flu activity increases in September and October, with expected peaks throughout the winter.
The availability of the vaccine on campus has been especially convenient for students amid exam season.
Stacey Roy ’25 believes that access to vaccine clinics on campus has increased the likelihood of student inoculation due to its accessibility.
“Going to Wegman’s or Walgreens was simply too far for me to venture out to during my busy day,” Roy said.
The flu vaccine remains one of the most effective ways to protect against the four most common influenza viruses expected to make their rounds this season. According to Dr. Hamilton, it will play a key role in keeping students inside their classes and activities. However, those who get the vaccine should also take other preventative measures such as washing their hands, getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet.
Cornell Health currently offers three types of flu vaccinations: the regular dose, a dose for seniors aged 65 and above and thimerosal-free flu shots for pregnant women or those allergic to the thimerosal ingredient.
Students who already received a vaccine at a Cornell clinic reported smooth experiences with the process.
“The person administering the flu shot was very attentive because needles make me squeamish, and they sensed my discomfort and kept me calm with conversation about classes,” Roy said.
To receive a vaccine, Cornellians must sign up for a timeslot and fill out two copies of Wegman Pharmacy’s informed consent form. Those 18 and under will need a parent or guardian’s signature.
Due to the similarity in symptoms, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between influenza and COVID-19, which is constantly evolving and is also expected to spike this winter.
Alongside the flu vaccine clinics, Cornell maintains a limited supply of the new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine boosters, which target both the original strain of the coronavirus and the newer omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. According to Dr. Hamilton, these boosters are encouraged for all Cornellians, but require those who want the booster to call in advance for an appointment.
Hamilton reports that Cornell’s COVID vaccination requirement has played an important role in keeping low case numbers and mild symptoms. It is safe and recommended to receive the COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine at the same time in order to protect against both concurrently, as it is possible to be infected by both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.
The CDC recommends that everyone get the bivalent booster, but says that some people may consider delaying getting the booster until three months after their most recent positive COVID-19 infection. Specific guidelines about when it’s safe to get revaccinated may vary, so students are encouraged to consult the CDC website, or speak with a Cornell Health medical provider for guidance.
There will be flu vaccination clinics at Bartels Hall, and at Willard Straight Hall on Oct. 18 and 27, respectively.