There really is no “flu season” this year because there are two types of flu, the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu. For an informative presentation about the seasonal and H1N1 flu, please go to this site, http://www.hokiewellness.hr.vt.edu/multimedia/physical/flu.php , and listen to Paige Bordwine of the Virginia Department of Health. Because there are two versions of the flu, you have two opportunities to protect your health and prevent a public health emergency by taking two different flu shots.
One for the Flu - Seasonal Flu Shot
When you told us in our wellness survey earlier this year that flu shots were one of your top priorities for our employee wellness program, you were not kidding! Last year, approximately 800 employees received flu shots through our on-campus employee flu clinics. This year, with one flu clinic still to come on November 13 at Research Building 14, 2,238 employees have already received seasonal flu shots on campus. If you have not received a seasonal flu shot as yet, please go to this site for information about the flu and details about how to register for the last seasonal flu shot clinic: http://www.hokiewellness.hr.vt.edu/physical/ .
This year, Theresa Conti made a few changes to our flu shot program to accommodate the tremendous demand. She put the plan together earlier to help with communications, organized more clinics, and distributed the clinics around the campus to make it easier for employees to access the shots. Our new on-line training registration program helped with the sign-up process. University Relations put together a flu information site by working with a number of departments, particularly Schiffert Health Center, to help keep the campus community informed: http://www.vt.edu/fluinfo/ . The site includes links to off-campus resources as well.
Thanks to Virginia Tech Director of Emergency Management Mike Mulhare and Grady DeVilbiss of the Virginia Department of Health, we offered free seasonal flu shots to wage employees. We have received a number of questions asking why we held the flu clinic for wage employees. Our wage employees are important members of our community. By definition, wage employees are not covered by health insurance. To assist our wage employees and minimize the chances of a widespread flu outbreak, we provided seasonal flu shots at no charge. Schiffert Health Center Director Dr. Kanitta Charoensiri did a fantastic job in coordinating the clinic.
Two for the Flu – H1N1 Flu Shot
We hear you! We know there is strong interest in having H1N1 flu clinics on campus for our employees. We have received many phone calls and e-mails requesting them. H1N1 vaccine is in short supply right now, and arranging flu clinics has been a challenge. The ideal approach would be for Virginia Tech to hold H1N1 flu clinics on campus exactly like the seasonal flu clinics - the shots would be provided by a vendor (like Walgreens or Kroger) covered by employee insurance so employees would have no out of pocket expenses. Because of the shortage of the H1N1 vaccine, we have not yet been able to work out that arrangement.
Instead, salaried employees who do not want to wait until later and are willing to pay a non-reimbursable fee of $19.96 can attend one of two upcoming clinics – on Monday, November 16 or Wednesday, December 2. The immunization clinic scheduled for Monday, November 16 will be offered only in the event that the H1N1 vaccine is available at that time. If the H1N1 vaccine is available, the immunization clinic will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the McComas Hall Gymnasium and will be open to Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff only. No appointments are necessary, and payments should be made by cash, check, or credit card at the time of the clinic.
This situation may mean that some of our employees who get the vaccine at these clinics may pay for it out of their pocket, while others who wait until later may be covered by insurance. The supply of H1N1 vaccines is not a Virginia Tech issue. Please be patient with us as we, and doctors and public health officials in the region, cope with a supply of H1N1 vaccines which is not keeping up with demand at this point. We will make every effort to keep you well-informed and work with our vendors to finalize more employee flu clinics, including a free H1N1 flu clinic for our wage employees, as the vaccine supply increases.