Zoe Berg, Photo Editor

As the “Yale Plague” spread this past month, University health officials have urged Yale community members to get a flu shot — a mandatory component of the Yale Community Compact.

As flu season approaches, University and Yale Health administrators have been urging students and the broader campus community to get their free flu shots as soon as possible. In frequent University-wide emails, officials have also reminded students that this is a tenet of the community compact they signed prior to arriving on campus. On Tuesday, preliminary reports on flu shot compliance will be shared with leadership only, according to Kathleen Omollo, Director of Health Strategy and Portfolio Management at Yale Health. After, the University will distribute the reports and begin notifying noncompliant students.

“[Flu shots] are an important part of the toolbox for influenza, and these vaccines have an effectiveness which varies each year,” said Albert Ko, the Raj and Indra Nooyi professor of public health and professor of epidemiology. “It’s always good to get it early. In order to get immunity it takes probably up to one month to get peak immunity after the shot.”

Ko also noted a second reason to get the flu shot as early as possible, especially this year, is because the epidemiology community can not predict the upcoming flu season’s severity or when strains of influenza will pop up. He said that currently, the Yale community has seen a lot of respiratory illnesses that come out of the typical winter season, such as the “Yale Plague” and also another illness, respiratory syncytial virus, which primarily affects children. Getting the vaccine would be a smart decision since the influenza season may be more unpredictable than usual, according to Ko. 

Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, expressed similar sentiments. He emphasized the importance of getting flu shots as early as possible so that students can be prepared for flu season once it begins in the coming months.

“In a pandemic year, things are a bit uncertain. Not a lot of people’s immune system saw a flu virus last year because of distancing,” said Omer. “So there is this concern that there may be more pockets of vulnerability, so therefore, taking it now would be a really good idea.” 

Students can either schedule an appointment for their flu shot at Yale Health’s website or walk in to Yale Health, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., to receive their vaccine.

In addition, Yale administration has reminded students in frequent emails that taking the flu shot was a part of the community compact that they signed prior to arriving on campus. After taking the flu shot, students must register their vaccination information into the Health and Safety Database. To request an exemption for the flu vaccine requirement, students must complete an influenza vaccination medical or religious waiver form. While there is no specified date, the compact reads, “I will obtain the current flu vaccine as soon as it is available.”

Many students who have already taken the flu shot at Yale Health said that they had a positive experience, noting the system’s streamlined and straightforward process for vaccinations.  

“I got my flu shot at Yale Health, and it was super easy,” Kevin Xiao ’23 said. “From scheduling a week in advance to actually getting the shot, I was done in no more than 10 minutes. Honestly, walking from [Pauli Murray College] to Yale Health took longer than getting the shot.”

Two other students echoed Xiao’s flu shot experience as being quick and seamless.

Students who live farther from Yale Health than Murray also had an easy process with vaccinations.

“My experience was straightforward,” Karen Lin ’24 said. “I just walked into Yale Health where there were flu shot stations.”

Lin also shared that she recommends other students to also get their flu shots, as it is an effective way to combat the flu.

Some students also shared they had a very amiable experience with the Yale Health vaccination team. 

“I had a great conversation with my nurse about the music she was playing in her office,” added Sarah Wang ’24. 

One student who has not yet taken the flu shot pointed to his busy schedules as the reason behind the delay, but said he planned to get it. 

“There’s no real reason I haven’t gotten the shot yet, I’ve just been busy with midterms,” said Krishna Dasari ’24. “I plan to get it as soon as possible.”

Both Ko and Omer said that if students have any concerns or questions and want to speak to someone, they should contact Yale Health.

As of Oct. 17, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists Connecticut as minimal risk on the Influenza-Like Illness Activity Indicator.

Brandon Wu covers relations between the School of Medicine and the School of Public Health.