The University of Maryland is opening its flu clinic Thursday, as some health experts anticipate an increase in flu cases this year.
The University Health Center will be distributing flu shots at Eppley Recreation Center on Oct. 14 and 15, Nov. 9 and 10 and at Ritchie Coliseum on Oct. 21, 22, 25 and 26 and Nov. 2 and 3. Students can schedule appointments at these sites between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Appointment slots for the flu vaccine at the health center are now available.
Health experts are especially stressing getting the shot this year. Many students at this university have dealt with respiratory illnesses this semester, which has increased their fears that they may have contracted COVID-19.
Sandra Quinn is a professor and chair in the family science department whose research expertise includes vaccines. She said “there is some concern” among infectious disease experts that there could be a surge in respiratory disease cases this year.
The concern is because many people have had limited interaction with others in the past year and a half, Quinn said. Now that people are seeing each other more often, they are more susceptible to contracting the flu or other respiratory illnesses.
The concern is specifically for younger people, Quinn said, since they don’t have as much immunity to the flu.
“There is a potential that this season could be harder on young people — on children, on young adults — who just don’t have decades of flu seasons behind them,” Quinn said. “To have missed a flu season last year, [older people] still got a lot of immunity.”
Quinn suggested students get the shot as soon as possible.
The early symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu are similar — fever, achiness, tiredness and a sore throat. By getting vaccinated for both COVID-19 and the flu, people are going to reduce the possibility of getting infected, Quinn said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced people don’t need to wait between getting the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I would say, number one is get in and get tested [if you’re having COVID-19 or flu symptoms]. Do it right away. Don’t wait,” Quinn said. “The longer you wait, the more likely it could be that you will infect somebody else.”
Quinn also stressed students should take the flu seriously, even if it’s not as severe as COVID-19.
“You can still get pretty sick, you can still miss a week of classes or more,” Quinn said. “It should be taken seriously too, and particularly because now, every doctor’s office, every hospital is just stretched, and anything we can do to take that pressure off will help all of us in the long run.”
People interested in getting flu shots can also go to CVS Pharmacy near campus, which is taking walk-ins and scheduled appointments. Community members should bring their insurance card and identification, CVS pharmacist Bita Ngwa said.
“As long as we open, you can come in and get your flu shot,” Ngwa said.
Shiv Agarwal, a junior psychology major, said he is planning on getting the shot and would get it through the university.
“I don’t want to get the flu,” he said. “I want to mitigate my sickness if I inevitably get the flu.”