Get vaccinated now
To help ensure the health and safety of the UIC community, the university is strongly encouraging all students, faculty and staff who are on campus to be vaccinated against influenza, commonly known as flu, ideally before the flu season starts. It takes at least two weeks after vaccination before you are considered protected and the flu season typically starts in November and December.
Why is it important to get vaccinated this year?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that we all get vaccinated to protect ourselves, our families and our campus from the flu virus. Flu shots are the best way to protect against infection from influenza viruses and decrease a co-infection with COVID-19.
While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the fall and winter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes it’s likely that flu and COVID-19 will both be spreading at that time. Reduced population immunity due to lack of flu virus activity since March 2020 and relaxed COVID-19 mitigation measures (such as stay-at-home orders or mask mandates) may result in an early and possibly severe flu season in 2021-2022.
You can learn more about the importance of getting a flu vaccine at What are the benefits of flu vaccination?
Will I have to pay for the vaccine?
For employees and students with health insurance through CampusCare or state-sponsored Medicare and Medicaid insurance plans who receive a flu shot at a campus location, the shots are free. Those plans will be billed, and there will be no additional cost to the individual.
For students or employees not covered by CampusCare or state insurance plans, the flu shot is available at no cost in many locations, including doctor’s offices, pharmacies, public health clinics and community health centers. More information is online at Find a Flu Shot.
I have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Can I still receive the flu vaccine?
Flu vaccination should be temporarily deferred for people with active, suspected or confirmed COVID-19 – regardless of symptoms – until criteria have been met to discontinue isolation. If you have tested positive in the past 10 days or are still experiencing symptoms, please defer getting the vaccine. If you have had COVID-19 but have not tested positive in the past 10 days and are not experiencing any symptoms, you can receive the flu shot.
Diagnosis of COVID-19 is not a contraindication to influenza vaccination. Vaccination is postponed to avoid exposing others to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Do I need a flu vaccine if I wear a face covering and practice social distancing?
Yes. Wearing a mask and physical distancing can help protect you and others from respiratory viruses, like flu and the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the best way to reduce your risk of flu illness and its potentially serious complications is for everyone 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine each year. By getting a flu vaccine, you may also be protecting people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.
What is the difference between flu and COVID-19?
Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2), and seasonal flu (most often just called “flu”) is caused by infection with one of many influenza viruses that spread annually among people.
People can be infected with both a flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time.
I am over 65. Which flu vaccine should I receive?
People over 65 can receive either the regular flu vaccine or the high-dose flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have not expressed a preference for any flu vaccine indicated for those 65 and older.
As people get older, the immune system becomes weaker and decreases the body’s ability to build a good immune response after getting the flu vaccine. Aging also puts people at greater risk of severe illness from the flu. The high-dose flu vaccine has a higher antigen level in the vaccine than the regular flu vaccine. A higher dose of antigen in the vaccine is thought to give a better immune response and, therefore, better protection against flu. Results from a clinical trial of more than 30,000 participants showed that adults 65 years and older who received the high-dose vaccine had 24% fewer influenza infections as compared to those who received the standard dose flu vaccine (CDC, 2018).
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that the high-dose vaccine was 24.2% more effective in preventing flu in adults 65 years of age and older relative to a standard-dose vaccine. The confidence interval for this result was 9.7% to 36.5%.
I am highly allergic to eggs. Can I receive the flu vaccine?
People with a history of egg allergy of any severity may receive any licensed, recommended and age-appropriate influenza vaccine. Cell-based flu vaccines that do not use any egg components are available if necessary. The cell-based vaccine manufacturing process uses animal cells to grow the flu virus.
Is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time?
While limited data exists on giving COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines, including flu vaccines, experience with giving other vaccines together has shown the way our bodies develop protection and possible side effects are generally similar whether vaccines are given alone or with other vaccines.
If you have concerns about getting both vaccines at the same time, you should speak with a health care provider.