The Flu Vaccine: Another Line of Defense for Your Spring Return

By Christina Moylan, October 9, 2020
A message from Christina Moylan, Director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness.

Public Health Column introduction video. 

You may have heard the term “twindemic” and are wondering what that has to do with COVID-19. This refers to the possibility that we will have two significant viruses that cause respiratory diseases widely circulating at the same time – influenza, also called “the flu,”, and SARS-CoV-2, which leads to COVID-19.  

In the U.S., flu season typically runs from October to March, with peak activity occurring between December and February. It is common for several strains of flu viruses to circulate during these months. The severity of the flu can vary each year. Some years, the flu virus is relatively mild. In other years, it can be much more severe, resulting in higher numbers of people with significant illness and serious health outcomes.  

"For our students and families afar, getting your flu vaccine at home is a great step you can take now to prepare for your spring return to campus."

Christina Moylan, Director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness

The flu vaccine is regularly recommended for anyone older than 6 months (with some rare exceptions). It helps prevent you from becoming ill from certain strains of the flu, but not all. It can minimize the severity of your illness should you become infected, decreasing the likelihood that you will need hospitalization or even die. This is especially important protection for people who may have other chronic conditions.  

So what does getting the flu vaccine have to do with COVID-19? It does not prevent you from becoming infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus or developing COVID-19. However, getting the flu vaccine reduces your chance of getting the flu, which keeps your respiratory system strong and healthy. This will help your body fight other respiratory disease like COVID-19. It also makes it less likely that you will develop severe flu symptoms or complications, preserving valuable healthcare resources to help with caring for patients with COVID-19.  

Flu shot

Flu shot clinic. (Photo Credit: Durst Breneiser '15)

We don’t have a vaccine yet to prevent COVID-19. However, there are many strategies we can use as alternative forms of defense, such as wearing a face covering properly, keeping six feet of physical distance from others, practicing good hand hygiene, and making decisions to avoid high- risk activities like gatherings and unnecessary travel. These are simple but effective strategies that make it more difficult for COVID-19 to pass from one person to another.  

October is the ideal time to get your flu vaccine. It takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in your body after the vaccination. Getting it now means that your body will be ready and at full strength once flu season begins to peak in early winter. 

Here on campus, we will be offering the flu vaccine while our supplies last during our COVID-19 surveillance testing that is occurring on Tuesday, October 13 and Wednesday, October 14 at the Athletics & Events Center. Employees approved to access campus and all students in the Ithaca area can get a flu vaccine immediately after you complete your COVID-19 testing. Individuals who plan to participate in the flu shot should print and complete the influenza vaccination form

Employees not approved to access campus who have the Ithaca College Health Plan through Aentna can obtain a free flu vaccine at a variety of locations. Students can also contact Hammond Health Center at (607) 274-3177 to schedule their flu vaccine. 

For our students and families afar, getting your flu vaccine at home is a great step you can take now to prepare for your spring return to campus. It is another critical preventive measure to protect your own respiratory health this winter, and it also helps in our common goal of fighting against COVID-19. 

Let’s keep our numbers low, and our spirits high!    


Christina Moylan, Ph.D.   
Director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness