University Opens Flu Shot and COVID-19 Booster Vaccine Clinic

In an email sent out on Oct. 3, Student Health Services (SHS) announced that they have renewed their partnership with Dougherty Pharmacy this year to provide on-campus vaccine clinics interspersed throughout the month. The clinics, located in Merrill House, currently offer both flu shots and COVID-19 booster shots. Due to high demand, three more clinics were added throughout the second half of October, according to a follow up email from SHS on Oct. 14.

The Oct. 3 email also brought up the possibility of receiving the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine at one of the health clinics using a Google form to help gauge student interest. Dr. Ellen Larson, SHS Direct and one of the primary facilitators of the partnership between the University and Dougherty Pharmacy, cleared up any potential confusion.

“Student Health is working towards receiving [a] vaccine from the Madison County Department of Health to administer to students on campus,” Larson said. “There is a process that will take some time but we are actively working through it.” 

In regards to monkeypox itself, Larson clarified the requisite qualifications to receive the vaccine.

“NY State is now making [the] monkeypox vaccine available to those who have recently been exposed to monkeypox, as well as anyone who identifies as being at high risk for exposure to monkeypox,” Larson said. “If students are interested and feel they qualify, they can communicate with student health confidentially through their medical portal or they can email student health and express their interest in [the] monkeypox vaccine,” Larson said.

The vaccine clinics started on Thursday, Oct. 6. Dougherty Pharmacy showed that they can play a large role in helping the University through the flu season. Taylor Duell, Dougherty’s pharmacist, strongly affirmed that they have enough vaccines for everyone. 

“We preorder vaccines in the spring for flu. The county and the state provide us with our COVID boosters,” Duell said. “So far, so good. We’ve been able to meet our demand.” 

Duell asserted that Dougherty cuts no corners in ensuring their preparedness for distribution. 

“COVID is a little more unpredictable because of the variants, but we wait until we have [the vaccines] in store on hand before we let the school know,” Duell said.

Location-wise, SHS made sure to prioritize accessibility this year. Larson elaborated on their reasons behind choosing Merrill House. 

“It had the advantages of being centrally located, it has parking available for those that might need or want to drive, it is handicap-accessible and it was available for all of the dates we were looking to host clinics,” Larson said. 

First-year Reem Numan reflected on her own experience with the clinic. 

“It was a pretty fast process. [SHS] let me know I was behind on the COVID booster and gave me the option to take it, even though I didn’t sign up,” Numan said. “They also made me stay for 10 minutes, just in case anything bad happened afterwards.” 

Duell also vouched for the effectiveness of the clinics in preventing the spread of the flu.

“The flu has been low. It stands to reason that there are some cases that were prevented,” he said. “Typically, flu shots are very predictable in supply.” 

Although the clinics will serve to stave off these iterations of the flu and other illnesses, Larson emphasized the importance of personal protective measures. 

“There is longstanding public health data that flu vaccines decrease the spread of flu, especially in settings like residential institutions of higher education. As we are all so familiar with hearing [about] COVID, they are one of many tools that decrease the risk of the spread of disease. The others include staying home when you’re sick, wearing a mask when you are sick, covering your cough and washing your hands,” Larson said.