Flulapalooza canceled indefinitely due to COVID-19 precautions

Vanderbilt’s annual Flulapalooza has been replaced with a long-term campaign this year in which flu vaccines will be offered at the Student Health Center.

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The Student Health Center, as photographed on Sept. 10, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Alex Venero)

Claire Cho, Staff Writer

Flulapalooza 2021 has been postponed indefinitely as a COVID-19 precaution, given the uptick in COVID-19 cases in Nashville. Student Health has shifted to a year-long distribution of free influenza vaccines at the Student Health Center.

Traditionally a one day event spanning from 6 a.m. CDT to 6 p.m. CDT, Flulapalooza has been a Vanderbilt fall tradition since 2011. This year, similar to last year, the university will instead offer two opportunities for community members to receive the flu shot: Flula-2-Uza and Avoid the Flu at VU for students.

Joyce Huang, a sophomore, stated that she feels reassured that Vanderbilt is taking measures to promote the flu vaccine for its students. 

“We should be taking these measures at these times to protect the students on campus,” Huang said. 

Hannah Shim, a junior, said that, while she understands the measures that are being taken for COVID-19, she felt that Flulapalooza could have happened this year, given its usual efficiency and timeliness. 

“Flulapalooza was an overall efficient experience [in 2019] and motivated me to get a flu shot along with everyone else,” Shim said. 

Students can visit the Student Health Center to get a free flu shot without an appointment between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. CDT Monday through Friday anytime this year. On Oct. 26, the Student Health Center is also hosting Boo to the Flu from 5:30-7:30 p.m. CDT to further promote getting flu vaccinations at the Student Health Center before Halloween. 

Dr. Lori Rolando, director of the Vanderbilt Occupational Health Clinic, stated that the flu vaccine prevents many infections and limits the spread of the virus. She said that it is critical for community members to receive a flu shot this year because of the similarities between COVID-19 and the flu. Since both COVID-19 and the flu are respiratory viruses, Rolando stated that there has been difficulty parsing them apart, and getting a vaccine would be far less straining for the healthcare system. 

“We know all the potential ramifications of becoming symptomatic and the suspicion of COVID symptoms,” Rolando said. “Anything you can do to minimize individuals’ risk of respiratory health issues during COVID-19 is really important.” 

According to Rolando, getting a flu shot is important to help those in the Vanderbilt community that may be facing existing health conditions, as well as those who live with said individuals. She additionally said that being vaccinated for the flu by the end of October would be ideal to effectively prevent the spread of the flu before it hits. 

“It’s one of the most important things that you can do to help protect yourself and those around you,” Rolando said.