Penn vaccinated over 11,000 community members during its fall flu vaccine clinic.
The flu clinic — hosted by Wellness at Penn — ran from Sept. 28 through Sept. 30 in Gimbel Gymnasium in Pottruck Health and Fitness Center. During last year’s flu clinic, Penn vaccinated under 3,000 community members on its busiest day, but this year, over 3,500 community members received their shot each day, Associate Director of Public Health and Wellbeing Rebecca Huxta said. At the clinic’s peak, over 860 vaccines were given in just one hour.
Huxta said that there were 69 logistics volunteers and 46 School of Nursing students who “helped make this year’s clinic a success.”
The Nursing students helped prepare and administer vaccines to receive hours toward the Academically Based Community Service “Nursing in the Community” course through the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. The class focuses on “public health … and community-based and community-oriented care,” according to the course listing.
“Working in higher education, we value our working relationships and experiences with our students,” Huxta said. “This partnership continues to be essential each year, as it not only benefits our operations and the students’ clinical hours, but we all get to enjoy working on this large campus-wide event together.”
Nursing senior Jonathan Zhu wrote in an email that volunteering at the flu clinic was a "great reminder" of the distinct opportunities Nursing students have to give back to the Penn community.
"Our profession has always been about maintaining a human-centered approach in everything we do," Zhu wrote. "Being able to interact with the diverse Penn community during the clinic offered a fresh perspective on the impact we are able to have as future nurses through our practice."
Students who were vaccinated at the Gimbel Gymnasium clinic had a record of receiving the flu shot automatically uploaded to University records, saving them the extra step of having to submit separate documentation and wait for approval, Huxta said. Students vaccinated outside of Penn must upload proof of vaccination to their Wellness Portal.
Penn’s flu clinic marked the second time the University used Gimbel as a vaccine clinic location this year. In January 2022, Penn held a COVID-19 booster clinic from Jan. 14 through Jan. 19. Last fall, the University also held its flu clinic in the Gymnasium, where nearly 14,000 community members were vaccinated.
“Getting your flu shot can not only protect you, but it can also protect your friends, classmates, family, and community against the flu,” Huxta said, adding that ultimately, receiving the vaccine is also required for all students for a second consecutive academic year. “With multiple viruses now circulating, every bit of protection helps,” she said.
Medical Director of Student Health and Counseling Vanessa Stoloff said that due to the way COVID-19 has mutated, it is likely that the flu will impact students more negatively than COVID-19.
“The prediction is that it will be a robust flu season this year because there has been such a relaxation of masking,” Stoloff said. “The flu data from the Southern Hemisphere has shown an angry version this year."
Stoloff said that data about each upcoming flu season is collected from the Southern Hemisphere, which encounters the virus earlier.
For those who have not yet received their flu shot, Huxta said that getting the vaccine can prevent and reduce the severity of influenza illness, which can also lessen outpatient illnesses and hospitalizations.
Even though the Gimbel flu clinic is over, students can still get their flu shot for free through Student Health and Counseling by making an online appointment or calling.