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University of California requires flu shots for students, faculty and staff

San Francisco Chronicle logo San Francisco Chronicle 8/9/2020 By Lauren Hernández
a person in a blue shirt: A nurse administers a flu shot at a Kaiser Permanente clinic in Santa Clara last year. The University of California is requiring flu shots for students, faculty and staff this year amid the coronavirus crisis. © Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle 2019

A nurse administers a flu shot at a Kaiser Permanente clinic in Santa Clara last year. The University of California is requiring flu shots for students, faculty and staff this year amid the coronavirus crisis.

Students, faculty and staff in the University of California system will be required to get flu vaccinations before Nov. 1 as part of a new system-wide executive order, UC officials announced Friday.

The order was issued as the state continues to battle a surge of coronavirus cases.

UC officials described it as a “proactive measure to help protect members of the UC community — and the public at large — and to ameliorate the severe burdens on health care systems anticipated during the coming fall and winter from influenza and COVID-19 illnesses.”

The UC system already required students to be screened for tuberculosis and vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, meningococcus, tetanus and whooping cough.

A few other universities nationwide have enacted similar policies — Purdue University in Indiana, for example, decided in June to require people returning to campus to get the shot. The University of Miami and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville have also added flu vaccine requirements.

The UC system’s medical plans will cover the vaccinations at no cost for students, faculty and staff who are enrolled in University of California medical plans, according to UC officials.

“For those without group health care coverage, all (Affordable Care Act)-compliant health plans also cover flu vaccinations as part of a preventive care package that includes no co-pay,” UC officials said.

The new requirement reflects an effort to avoid a potential surge of patients with the flu who seek care at clinics and hospitals across the state while local health departments are still grappling with the coronavirus, which shares a number of symptoms with flu. It also means that fewer people will have flu and COVID-19 at the same time, a combination that could potentially worsen their health outcome.

Officials said they will soon release more information on how the new requirement will be implemented, and when the flu shot will be available.

People will be able to request medical exemptions, and a process will also be in place for requests to accommodate people with disabilities or religious needs, officials said.

Lauren Hernández is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: lauren.hernandez@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ByLHernandez

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