On Monday and Tuesday, Health Services will hold an influenza vaccine clinic. Students will be given the shot after their usual PCR COVID-19 test at Farley Field House. Since all students are required to get the shot this year, Health Services has ordered more vaccines than they do during a typical year.
“We traditionally order 800 or so vaccines, anticipating about a 50 percent participation rate. This year we have 2,000 vaccines ready to go,” Director of Health Services Jeffrey Maher wrote in an email to the Orient.
Bowdoin implemented the flu shot mandate in the fall of 2020 due to COVID-19. Prior to then, the shot was only ‘highly recommended’ to students.
“The shift was made with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The feeling was twofold: [we wanted] to reduce the incidents of compounding illness (influenza and COVID-19 share many similar symptoms) and to reduce the medical burden influenza has on the Health Center and on local hospitals,” Maher wrote. “At the time we were concerned that our local hospital system would be overwhelmed with COVID and Influenza, leaving little room for anything else.”
Since Maine State Law prohibits religious and philosophical exemptions for students, only those who have a medical exemption from receiving the influenza vaccine can opt-out.
“The American College Health Association identifies influenza as a vaccine-preventable illness more likely to occur in residential settings. We at Health Services have advocated for a requirement previous to 2020,” Maher wrote.