Tufts organizes flu clinics with CVS Pharmacy

CVS Pharmacy in Davis Square is pictured on Oct. 25. Nicole Garay / The Tufts Daily

Tufts is holding various flu clinics in conjunction with CVS Pharmacy between Oct. 25 and Nov. 14 in the Gantcher Center, in an effort to meet increased vaccination demands.

In past years, Health Service has offered flu shots to students and community members through its facilities. This year, however, administrators at Health Service were concerned about social distancing measures while students waited in line for the vaccine.

“We needed to enlist an outside flu clinic provider to handle the increased volume and frequency,” Michelle Bowdler wrote in an email to the Daily.

Bowdler, who is the executive director of health and wellness services at Tufts, said students can alternatively get vaccinated with their primary care provider or at any local pharmacy. 

The organization of these clinics comes after an August state mandate from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that requires all university students in the state to get vaccinated for the flu.

“It’s very important that students comply with the requirement, especially because we don’t yet fully understand the health outcome of contracting COVID-19 and flu simultaneously,” Medical Director of Health Service Marie Caggiano wrote in an email to the Daily. 

Caggiano said Health Service is also encouraging remote-only students to be vaccinated so that they will protect themselves and those around them. 

All students who returned to campus this fall must get vaccinated and provide documentation by Nov. 19, unless they have a specifically approved medical or religious exemption.

“Students who are out of compliance with the requirement risk not being able to be on campus for the Spring semester,” Caggiano said. 

The clinic requires reservations to ensure adequate social distancing, and 6,000 appointments are available, according to Patrick Collins, executive director of media relations at Tufts. CVS is helping with the organization and execution of the clinic. 

A committee considered various options and chose CVS because of experience that committee members have had with the company conducting past student flu clinics on other Tufts campuses,” Collins wrote in an email to the Daily. 

Jenna Pollock, who is a pharmacy manager at CVS, was involved in the organization of the clinic and will be helping administer the flu shots at Tufts. She said that CVS is in the process of organizing many clinics like the one that will be held at Tufts.

“CVS Health also works with a number of organizations, including school districts, college campuses, nursing homes and long-term care facilities, to offer immunizations via off-site clinics like these,” Pollock said. 

Collins expressed the importance of keeping up the momentum of doing well with the pandemic, and hopes it continues through flu season. 

“President Monaco has commended students for their commitment to taking care of themselves, each other, and the members of our immediate and extended communities,” Collins said. “As we enter the flu season, we encourage every member of our community to do all they can to continue to minimize the potential spread of infection in our community. Getting the flu shot is an important step, as is continued observance of guidelines on mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing.” 

Pollock explained why yearly flu shots are essential. 

“It’s important to get the flu shot every year because the body’s immunity response to the vaccine declines over time. Flu viruses can alter from year to year, so receiving a new vaccine formulation is required to provide optimal protection,” Pollock said. 

She expanded on the importance of getting vaccinated this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage.

“We want to avoid adding any undue strain on our hospitals and emergency response workers and do what we can to avoid a ‘twindemic,’” Pollock said.