Students, faculty and staff in the University of California (UC) system will be required to get a flu shot by Nov. 1 as part of a system-wide executive order.
The order, issued Friday in consultation with UC Health leadership, aims to provide relief to hospitals during the upcoming flu season as they continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic, reports ABC 7.
“The executive order is an important proactive measure to help protect members of the UC community — and the public at large — and to ameliorate the severe burdens on health care systems anticipated during the coming fall and winter from influenza and COVID-19 illnesses,” reads the order.
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, said the inevitable stress on the healthcare system is a significant concern, according to KRON 4.
“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,” he said.
The order cited a 2018 study that showed from 2012 to 2015, flu vaccinations among adults reduced the risk of being admitted to the ICU with the flu by 82%. It also cited another 2018 study that found among adults hospitalized with the flu, vaccinated patients were 59% less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who had not been vaccinated.
UC system officials said there is already a policy in place on immunizations for students and that this order will add flu shots into that policy.
“In addition, for those without group health care coverage, all ACA-compliant health plans also cover flu vaccinations as part of a preventive care package that includes no copay,” continues the order. “A process will be put in place for faculty and staff to request medical exemptions. Requests for disability or religious accommodations will be handled through the interactive process consistent with existing location policies and procedures.”
The UC system consists of 10 campuses and five medical centers, and over 280,000 students and 227,000 faculty and staff.
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