Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 24, 2020
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COURTESY OF CHRIS H. PARK

Free flu vaccines will be available for all University affiliates at any Walgreens pharmacy in the United States.

The University announced on Sept. 24 that all affiliates spending time on campus will be required to get a flu vaccination by Nov. 20. The policy applies to all students participating in on-campus activities, as well as University employees and non-employees working in University properties or leased facilities.

Hopkins will be providing vaccinations free-of-charge to students in the United States, regardless of whether they are engaging in on-campus activities.

Junior Izzy Geada, who is living off-campus in Baltimore, stated that she was glad the University was taking these precautions.

“Frankly, it’s a relief. It’s pretty comforting that we don’t have to worry about the flu as well as corona,” she said. “At least one thing will be handled.”

However, Geada also noted that the University still does not provide asymptomatic coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for students living off-campus, which she argued should be a priority. 

In an email to The News-Letter, junior Vinayak Harihar, who is also living off-campus, voiced his support for the vaccine policy.

“It’s a good move from a public health standpoint,” he wrote. “It’ll reduce the likelihood of a flu spread, which is good since the flu presents similar symptoms to the coronavirus, which could cause a panic.”

Vice Provost for Student Health and Well-Being Kevin Shollenberger echoed Harihar’s sentiments in the email to University affiliates. 

“While we are all taking active measures to stay safe and protect the health of others in our community amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more crucial than ever to get vaccinated against the seasonal flu, which can have its own serious and disruptive effects and which has symptoms similar to those of COVID-19,” he wrote.

According to the email, affiliates can use a voucher to receive a free flu shot from any Walgreens pharmacy in the United States. Those with University’s Wellfleet student health insurance or East Baltimore health insurance can go to any in-network pharmacy. 

The University will be holding local flu vaccine clinics at the Hopkins Hospital from Sept. 21 through Oct. 23. Clinics will also open in the Social, Nine East 33rd, the Academy and the Marylander — off-campus residential buildings in Charles Village — on Oct. 26, 27, 28 and 29 respectively.

Previously, only University, Hospital and Health System Corporation employees, as well as non-employees who provided services in patient or clinical care areas, were required to get vaccinated for the flu. Students living in University housing this semester were also required to be vaccinated by move-in.

Students who have not been vaccinated will not be able to take part in campus activities in the fall or in 2021 and may be barred from using electronic resources. Exemptions will be granted for medical and religious reasons.

According to Harihar, it makes sense for the University to provide free flu shots.

“We already pay exorbitant amounts of money to the University, which has a lot of money, so I feel it would be unfair to force people to pay out of pocket,” he wrote.

Sophomore Andre Vu noted that complimentary flu shots will reduce students’ financial burden.

“Vaccination should be free just to assure the safety of everyone. I knew people who couldn't get vaccinated because of the costs,” he said. “When the vaccine for coronavirus comes out, they should make that free as well.”

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