Free flu shots are available throughout October for Texas A&M University System employees, their eligible dependents and retirees who are covered under the Texas A&M Care plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.
Two flu vaccines clinics have already been offered — an estimated 680 vaccines were administered at the first drive-thru clinic last week. Five more clinics will be held this month through a partnership between Texas A&M Health, Flourish, the Texas A&M Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness and CHI St. Joseph Health. The clinics will be offered at the following times and locations in Bryan-College Station:
- Wednesday, Oct. 7 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Memorial Student Center (walk-in)
- Saturday, Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at College Station High School (drive-through)
- Tuesday, Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Fan Field (drive-through)
- Saturday, Oct. 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Bryan High School (drive-through)
- Wednesday, Oct. 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Fan Field (drive-through)
Vaccinations are appointment-only. More information and registration details are available online.
Physicians stress that it is especially important to get a flu shot this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the numerous health problems associated with it. Texas A&M Health officials said that about 1,500 flu shots were given at last year’s clinics, while this year’s goal is to administer at least 5,000.
Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, medical professionals say, but the vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death.
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that influenza has resulted in 9 million to 45 million illnesses and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths annually since 2010. Despite this, almost one-half of all Americans do not get a flu shot each year.
“According to the CDC, only 48 percent of U.S. adults get the flu shot,” said Dr. Jason McKnight, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Primary Care and Population Health in the Texas A&M University College of Medicine. “It is always important to get vaccinated for the flu to help lessen severity of illness if you still get the flu, to help prevent complications from influenza infection, and to help keep your family members safe.”
The flu attacks the lungs, nose and throat. Young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with chronic disease or weak immune systems are at high risk.
Flu symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue.
“One reason it is more important to obtain a flu vaccine this year is that if we have another spike in COVID cases, that puts strain on the healthcare system — the co-existing increase in influenza illnesses resulting in office visits, hospitalizations, and intensive care admissions would help to overwhelm hospitals and healthcare systems,” McKnight said.