By Brianna Bush
The onset of flu season and the pandemic, known as the “twindemic,” is striking concern amongst healthcare professionals.
The healthcare system is continuously combating the spread of the coronavirus but with the flu season quickly approaching, they may be charged with a new concern. With schools and jobs functioning in person, officials worry about containing both viruses, which are known to be highly contagious and can be easily spread.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019, 2,705 people died from the flu or pneumonia in Florida. This is in combination with the risks of coronavirus, where 91 people died of COVID-19 in Florida, according to data from the CDC.
Healthcare officials are advising individuals to protect themselves by following CDC protocols including receiving both vaccines.
Many individuals were unsure if they could receive both the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine. However, according to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines and any other vaccines, including a flu vaccine, can be administered at the same visit.
Erica Williams, a certified nurse practitioner at the Dickey Health and Wellness Center is also advising students to do the same.
“Students should wash their hands, wear a mask, and get vaccinated against both viruses,” said Williams.
Although the health center does not provide COVID-19 vaccines, students are encouraged to receive one from the local Walmart located on Kennedy Blvd.
The health center does administer the quadrivalent flu shot, which according to the CDC is designed to protect against four different flu viruses.
“This is one step up because it gives you protection from more than one strain,” said Jessica Hubbs, sophomore sociology and allied health double major.
According to Williams, students can make an appointment, and sometimes they can receive the shot on the same day.
There are also opportunities for students to get vaccinated even if they do not come into the Wellness Center.
“We have mobile clinics [sites on campus where students can receive the flu shot],” said Williams. “Not a lot of people think about it until they physically see it.”
Hubbs said she’s had a difficult experience with the health center. She made an appointment to receive the flu shot but her appointment was canceled because they were overbooked.
“They don’t have enough slots for students to effectively make an appointment and get one [flu shot],” said Hubbs. “The school is doing a really poor job of giving shots to everyone that wants one… students should get the flu shot off-campus if they are having trouble receiving one from the health center.”
Ashley Ruehle, senior psychology major and a nurse technician at AdventHealth Tampa, is not currently experiencing the flu as a primary concern at her facility.
“Right now the pressing issue is COVID-19 and getting the numbers down,” said Ruehle.
Students should continue to be mindful of the risks from both viruses as the pandemic continues and as flu season approaches.
Photo Courtesy of The University of Tampa’s website.