September 3, 2020

FLUla-2-Uza vaccination campaign kicks off Sept. 8

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s 2020 flu vaccination campaign, FLUla-2-Uza, will kick off on Tuesday, Sept. 8, and run through Tuesday, Dec. 1.


by Kylie Avery

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s 2020 flu vaccination campaign, FLUla-2-Uza, will kick off on Tuesday, Sept. 8, and run through Tuesday, Dec. 1.

FLUla-2-Uza plays off the name of the usual one-day mass vaccination event, Flulapalooza, and this year’s campaign will focus on bringing the flu vaccine to employees by offering it through various socially distant options on and off campus, spread out over the next three months.

Flulapalooza began in 2011 and evolved into an efficient way to assure Vanderbilt’s faculty and staff receive their yearly flu shot.

Although the large Flulapalooza event won’t take place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the goal is still the same: to protect the VUMC community from influenza.

“Having our workforce vaccinated against the flu is an essential measure in helping protect ourselves and the patients we care for against the oncoming season of flu and COVID-19,” said Paul Sternberg Jr., MD, Chief Medical Officer for the Vanderbilt Medical Group and Chief Patient Experience Officer for VUMC. “Minimizing cases of flu will decrease anxiety and testing around symptoms that can be confused easily with COVID-19. We have established a new process to safely accomplish mass vaccination in our workforce by creating locations that enable our employees and staff to access the flu vaccine in a safe and socially distanced setting.”

Faculty and staff will be able to receive the vaccine through several different options, including Occupational Health Clinic (OHC) locations, OHC’s Peer Vaccination Program and OHC on-site event locations both on and off the main downtown campus. A vaccine can also be obtained outside of these OHC options, such as Vanderbilt Health Walk-In Clinics or Walgreens locations, a primary care provider’s office, or elsewhere, and documentation can be submitted to OHC.

All vaccinations given by OHC and through the Peer Vaccination Program are free of charge for faculty and staff, and anyone using VUMC health insurance at in-network providers should also have no out-of-pocket cost.

The Peer Vaccination Program plays an important role in immunizing our clinical departments, and those working in clinical departments are expected to receive their vaccine through a peer vaccinator conveniently located in their unit if possible, as this will help minimize crowds at other locations.

For additional details on locations where you can receive your shot, how to submit your vaccination record or exemption request, and to request an on-site event, visit OHC’s Employee Influenza Vaccine Program website.

This year’s campaign will continue to offer three vaccine choices: high-dose, recommended for those age 65 and older, egg-free for those with egg allergies and standard Quadrivalent (the four-component vaccine).

VUMC faculty and staff, including those working remotely, are required to be vaccinated or receive an approved exemption by Dec. 1. Exemption requests must be submitted online by Oct. 1.

“Due to COVID-19 many of our employees are working remotely, but receiving the flu shot is still just as important. The possibility of encountering the influenza virus is not limited to our campus. Protecting yourself as you interact with your local community is an integral role in helping to keep everyone healthy,” said Lori Rolando, MD, MPH, director of the Vanderbilt OHC.

“It’s important also to note that the benefits of the flu vaccine extend beyond preventing influenza infection altogether. Even for those who still do get the flu despite vaccination, getting vaccinated can decrease the likelihood of having a severe case of the flu or needing hospitalization. That is an important benefit for all, but especially those at higher risk for complications from influenza infection such as young children, those over 65, pregnant women, and those with certain chronic medical conditions or a suppressed immune system.

“Many of these individuals are also at higher risk from COVID-19, so doing all we can to protect each other from the flu and its complications is imperative this flu season,” Rolando said.

The festive spirit of Flulapalooza will also live on during this year’s FLUla-2-Uza campaign, with the use of branded stickers and face masks along with a Departmental Honor Roll that will recognize areas that hit the 100% compliance mark leading up to the Dec. 1 deadline. Employees receiving their vaccine can also share posts on social media using #FLUla2Uza to encourage their peers to get their shot as well.