Requirement rooted in concern for influenza outbreak alongside COVID-19 pandemic
A press release today from the University of California announced that all students, faculty and staff across UC must receive an influenza vaccine this fall.
The requirement is effective for the 2020-21 academic year, with Nov. 1 listed as the deadline to get the influenza vaccination. Its necessity will be re-examined every year in conjunction with public health recommendations.
The updated requirement coexists with UC’s current immunization requirements, which mandate measles, mumps, rubella, varicella/chickenpox and tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) vaccines. Students are also currently required to take a tuberculosis screening test before coming to campus and must have the meningococcal conjugate vaccine if they are under 21.
Dr. Carrie L. Byington, executive vice president of UC Health, said in the press release that the additional requirement is to both protect individual and community health given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“By vaccinating our students and employees to mitigate the impact of influenza in the coming season, the University is doing our part to ensure that limited, lifesaving health care resources are available for those most in need, including those at risk for severe influenza or COVID-19,” Byington said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that between Oct. 1, 2019 and Apr. 4, 2020, there have been over 39 million flu cases, more than 410,000 flu hospitalizations and at least 24,000 flu-related deaths.
In its 2019-2020 flu season Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, the CDC recommended that vaccinations be completed by the end of October, but cautioned against vaccinating too early.
“Vaccinating early — for example, in July or August — may lead to reduced protection against influenza later in the season, particularly among older adults,” the FAQ said.
The state of California is currently reporting 538,416 COVID-19 cases, with the most recent data from Aug. 5. That being said, the state acknowledged that uncertainty surrounds that number due to technical problems with counting data.
A lack of standardized contact tracing and a lag in COVID-19 testing results have also been cited as reasons that COVID-19 numbers in California may not fully be accurate.
UC Davis currently has 65 active COVID-19 cases, 59 from employees and 6 from students, linked to the campus. The data is updated every Monday.
Written by: Janelle Marie Salanga — email@example.com