By Kylah Thompson
After a year of separate operational locations for vaccines and COVID-19 tests on Florida A&M University’s campus, both are now available at a single location on 2507 Wahnish Way. And so are flu shots.
A steadily declining demand for the vaccine prompted the change, said FAMU Director of Student Health Services Tanya Tatum. explained that the service areas for vaccines and tests are intentionally partitioned despite this consolidation.
“We still have separate registration areas,” Tatum said. “There are separate lines and pods that are dedicated to testing or vaccination.”
Tatum said the site is also offering free flu shots just in time for flu season, imploring students and community members to continue to take advantage of the site’s convenience. She said the school provides free flu vaccines to students every year, and this year the service has been especially necessary.
“We had a flu outbreak after homecoming and Halloween,” Tatum said. “Fortunately, we caught many folks early who tested positive for the flu. Still, I can never give out all the flu vaccines.”
Tatum also stressed that while COVID-19 and the flu have similar symptoms, it is important to get tested to be sure. Each illness requires slightly different courses of action to best protect others. Both COVID-19 and flu vaccines significantly decrease the chances of coming down with a fever. The site on Wahnish Way is also seeing an increased number of people coming to receive the booster doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, Tatum said.
According to the Florida Department of Health in Leon County, influenza and influenza-like activity increased “during the fourth week of the 2021–22 influenza season (week 44).”
Department of Health Officer for Leon County Claudia Blackburn told Florida Health that flu vaccines can protect Tallahassee from potentially fatal consequences.
“The flu or influenza is a serious disease,” Blackburn said. “It’s more than just a runny nose and sore throat.”
Tatum, who is aware that some are choosing to refrain from getting vaccination, says individuals should use alternative measures of protection to prevent the spread of this airborne illness.
“Wear a mask at the very least,” Tatum said. “We saw almost no flu cases last year because everyone was masked up. But this year masking practices have relaxed, allowing for the recent flare up.”
Kia Cannon, a senior FAMU student at FAMU, was alarmed by what she saw at a recent visit to CVS Pharmacy.
“The cold and flu aisle in college town looks like this,” Cannon said referring to empty shelves. “FAMU students, protect yourselves.”
As courses wind down and winter break approaches, Tatum said it is more important than ever that students and staff alike remain healthy.
“We’re at crunch time in the semester,” Tatum said. “Between exams, holidays and graduation, this is not the time to be sick, especially when it’s preventable.”
The FAMU COVID-19 vaccination and testing site on 2705 Wahnish Way is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.