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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

University offers covid-19 booster and flu vaccines

Pharmacist Nila Patel giving Alexander McGeary ’26 the covid-19 bivalent booster. PHOTO: ALLIE MILLER ’24/THE HAWK

St. Joe’s held its first on-campus vaccine clinic of the semester on Oct. 19 on both the Hawk Hill and University City campuses. Pharmacists from Rite Aid were there to administer flu vaccines and the bivalent covid-19 Pfizer booster shots to members of the St. Joe’s community who signed up in advance.

With the approaching colder weather sending more people indoors and covid-19 immunity waning, infection rates could go up, said Eileen Bevilacqua, RN, director of St. Joe’s Student Health Center. For these reasons, the Student Health Center decided to offer vaccination clinics, she said.

“Every year, flu vaccination prevents illnesses, medical visits, hospitalizations and deaths,” Bevilacqua wrote in response to emailed questions from The Hawk. “Covid boosters improve your protection against serious illness or death from covid-19 infection. Updated boosters help restore protection that has decreased since your previous vaccination and provide better protection against newer variants.”

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the bivalent covid-19 booster shot includes components of both the original virus train and the omicron variant and may be referred to as the “updated covid-19 booster dose.”

The CDC classifies the 150 reported cases of covid per day in Philadelphia County as “medium” level, according to Dr. David A. Pegues, professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. 

“Cases are increasing in Europe and parts of the U.S.,” Pegues wrote in response to emailed questions from The Hawk. “This along with the emergence of new, even more transmissible virus variants should come as a warning of what is to come.”

Alexander McGeary ’26 said he received the covid bivalent booster at the Hawk Hill clinic as a safety precaution. 

“I work in a healthcare facility, so I have to be up to date with all my vaccines,” McGeary said. “But not only that, I’m just a strong believer of getting vaccinated and keeping everyone safe.”

For many people, getting a covid booster or a flu shot may not be at the top of their priority list. Pegues said there is a lack of urgency for people to protect themselves and others due to exhaustion caused by the pandemic.

“Although many of us are now protected from serious infection because of vaccination and immunity from prior covid-19, many on campus and even more in the surrounding community are vulnerable to reinfection and complications,” Pegues said. “Just as mandatory masking in healthcare settings, the need for periodic covid-19 boosting is the new reality.”  

After three years of limited flu cases during the height of covid, influenza A cases were “dramatically higher” earlier this year in the southern hemisphere, Pegues said, which is a sign of an expected increase of flu activity in the winter months. 

There is risk and concern regarding the flu on college campuses, said Nila Patel, a Rite Aid pharmacist who administered the vaccines at the Oct. 19 Hawk Hill clinic. 

“There’s always a risk for the flu,” Patel said. “Especially not knowing what the future is going to hold.”

Getting the flu shot and covid vaccinations are “sensical things” community members can do to keep ourselves and others healthy, said Ron Dufresne, Ph.D., professor of management, who was at the Hawk Hill clinic to receive his annual flu shot.

“We’re in close contact with a bunch of different people,” Dufresne said. “So if there’s something simple and easy, like getting a quick shot that can keep myself and others healthy, I think it’s a no brainer.”

St. Joe’s Student Health Center will host additional vaccine clinics from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 26 and Nov. 2 in The Perch on Hawk Hill and Wilson Room 205/208 on the UCity campus.

Allie Miller ’24 contributed to this story.

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