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UC system requiring flu shots for faculty, staff, students

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — While we are still in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic — one thing that is concerning experts is the upcoming flu season.

Over the weekend — the U.C. system put out a new mandate — requiring all college faculty, staff and students to get a flu shot this year. From U.C. Berkeley to UCSF, infectious disease experts across the Bay Area agree with the move, saying not only will it be beneficial to those that are on campus, but it will also help the healthcare system as a whole. 

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist from UCSF says the inevitable stress on our healthcare system is a main concern.

“By trying to decrease as many hospitalizations for flu, we can use fewer ICU beds and hospital beds and save them for COVID patients, which we will need in the winter for sure,” said Dr. Chin-Hong.

U.C. Berkeley infectious disease expert Dr. Lee Riley agrees. He says testing is another worry as we head into flu season.

“We’re going to see a lot of symptoms that may be attributed to flu or other infectious diseases that happen in the fall and winter,” said Dr. Riley. “So a lot more people will be needing or wanting to test to see if their symptoms are COVID or not and since we’re already overwhelmed with testing, that’s gonna get a lot worse.”

Dr. Riley says adding an influenza epidemic on top of the COVID-19 pandemic could truly complicate the system — so keeping influenza case numbers low is more important this year than ever before.

“Just the resources needed to control both of those is going to be really stretched thin,” said Dr. Riley.

“The consequences are graver because a lot of people get hospitalized for influenza, but it’s preventable! That’s why you should get the flu shot, because at least we can do something about flu,” said Dr. Chin-Hong.

Both doctors believe if you get the flu you may be more susceptible to catching coronavirus as well — since your immune system will be weakened. They are encouraging everyone to keep up with washing your hands frequently, and avoiding touching your face. 

The new flu shot requirement for the U.C. system is asking all within the system to get the flu shot by  Nov. 1.

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