Flu vaccine: What IU employees and students need to know for 2020

EDITOR'S NOTE, updated Oct. 13: If you'd like to receive a flu vaccine at a campus clinic, make an appointment through the Student Health Center's online scheduler. Clinics are currently scheduled on the IU Bloomington, IUPUI, IU East, IU Kokomo, IU Northwest, IU South Bend and IU Southeast campuses; other campuses will be available soon. If you choose to receive a flu vaccine somewhere other than an IU flu clinic or campus health center, you will need to fill out the Flu Vaccine Reporting Form to let IU know you have received a vaccination. If you're requesting an exemption, use the exemption request form.

As part of Indiana University's pandemic response, all staff, faculty and students whose work or class schedule requires them to be regularly present on campus will be required to get an annual flu vaccine during the fall 2020 semester.

A person's arm with a bandaid on itView print quality image
All IU employees and students who are regularly on campus will be required to get an annual flu vaccine this year. Photo by Getty Images

Flu vaccine clinics will be offered at every IU campus beginning in October. Information on where to go, how to sign up for a time slot, where to request an exemption and more will be provided later this month.

The on-campus clinics are for current faculty and staff and enrolled students only; they are not open to dependents or spouses of employees, or to retired faculty or staff.

Employees and students who are unable to get a vaccine due to a medical condition, or who have a religious or other ethical reason, can request an exemption. Employees and students who will not be present on campus between Dec. 1, 2020, and March 1, 2021, can also request an exemption.

"We worry that people may get severe illness if they were to be infected with COVID and influenza simultaneously," said Dr. Lana Dbeibo, part of the IU Medical Response Team and assistant professor of clinical medicine at the IU School of Medicine. "These viruses can cause complications including pneumonia, respiratory failure and even death, so prevention with available vaccines is very important, particularly for this season."

The flu vaccine is recommended for all individuals 6 months and older who have no contraindications, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When should I get my vaccine?

Faculty and staff who do not request an exemption must obtain a flu vaccine by Dec. 1, 2020. Students who don't request an exemption must obtain a vaccine by Dec. 1, 2020, if they will be studying or working on campus after Nov. 20, or by Jan. 15, 2021, if they will not be studying or working on campus after Nov. 20.

Do I have to get a vaccine?

Staff, faculty and students will be required to affirm they've received a flu vaccine. Additional information about the form will be provided soon, and faculty, staff and students are expected to provide accurate information to the university about when they received the vaccine.

What kind of vaccines will IU offer?

The flu vaccine clinics at IU will offer quadrivalent, single-dose vaccines. They are coming from two manufacturers and go by the trade names of Fluzone and Fluarix.

Neither the high-dose vaccine for those over 65 nor the eggless vaccine will be available at the university-sponsored clinics. Staff, faculty or students who need those types of vaccines are encouraged to seek them through an in-network provider under their insurance plan.

Where else can I get a vaccine, and how much will it cost?

Flu vaccines are covered at no cost as preventive care for faculty and staff on all IU-sponsored health plans, whether the shot is received on campus or through an in-network provider under their insurance plan in the community. Flu vaccines will be available at no cost to students, but insurance will be billed for anyone who has coverage through IU or through a non-IU plan (such as a parent plan).

IU has purchased a larger-than-usual number of flu vaccines this year; however, the university was unable to obtain enough doses to vaccinate all employees and students.

If you cannot attend one of IU's clinics, suggestions for locations to receive a flu vaccine include:

  • Retail pharmacies: Check with your retail pharmacy for influenza shot availability. Employees, students, and covered dependents and spouses enrolled in IU-sponsored medical plans can receive the seasonal flu vaccine at no cost at in-network retail pharmacies, like CVS and Kroger.
  • Health care provider: In most cases, your primary-care provider can administer flu shots. Employees, students, and covered dependents and spouses enrolled on IU-sponsored medical plans can receive the seasonal flu vaccine at no cost through their local in-network physician.