UHS sees fewer students getting flu shots, hopes to increase shots administered

Trisha Dasgupta, General News Reporter

University Health Services has been providing low-cost flu shots to UT faculty, staff and students for over 20 years, but the number of students willing to get those shots has almost halved since 2020. 

In Fall 2019, around 16,000 students chose to get their flu shots on campus, according to Laura Kinch, assistant director of communication and marketing for UHS and the Counseling and Mental Health Center. In 2020, that number dropped to just under 9,000 students, and numbers have not gone back up.

“This year, we started out doing appointments only, and then we’ve modified it to be kind of a hybrid of walk-ins plus appointments,” said Charlotte Katzin, nurse manager of the Allergy, Immunization and Travel Clinic. “So we’re finding that we’re not having the long lines of the previous years. People do still have that flexibility to be able to walk in and get a flu shot and have little to no wait.”

UHS has ordered 13,000 shots to be administered, but Katzin isn’t certain they’ll all be used. 

“In previous years, it would be easy to use the 13,000,” Katzin said. “This year, it looks like we’ll probably use less than that. We’re giving 500 to as many as 800 or more shots (per day) at our clinics, but it’s not 1,000. We’re not sure why there are fewer people getting it this year than in the pre-COVID years.”

This year, students can make appointments through UHS online and bill it to their insurance provider. Students without insurance can receive a flu shot for $10. Flu shots are provided at various locations on campus, including Gregory Gym, the Student Services Building and the Texas Union. 

“We also have people scheduling appointments,” Katzin said. “They can also look at the schedule and say, ‘OK, I know this day of the week they’re going to be at this building, which is where I work or close to where I take classes.’ But we also want to not put up any barriers. So we have the ability now for people to walk in.”

Shelton Locke, a radio-television-film junior, said receiving a flu shot at UHS was a quick process. 

“There is no wait at all this year,” Locke said. “I think in the past, maybe I’ve waited like a minute at most. But this year I was in and out in like less than a minute.” 

UHS will be providing shots until Oct. 20. Katzin urges students to remember the toll the flu can take when deciding whether or not to get their flu vaccine. 

“It’s important to let students know that if they were to get the flu, it can knock you out for a good week,” Katzin said. “With fever, fatigue, body aches (and) coughing, no student can afford to be out of school for a week. And we really don’t want students who are feeling sick to go to classes anyway and get other people sick.”