Protecting our community: Flu vaccine information

At Baylor, the flu vaccine is required by College policy. The flu vaccine is especially important this year as we face an ongoing pandemic and concurrent flu season.

Employees, students and trainees can get their flu shots at locations across campus through the Occupational Health Program. In order to maintain physical distancing, time slots for on-campus vaccines must be reserved in advance through a mobile app or online app. Conveniently, this app is also where you will submit attestation of flu vaccine, which must be completed by Nov. 30.

For those who are not on campus, flu shots also are available from your local pharmacy, walk-in clinic or your own physicians’ office, but attestation still must be completed. Additional resources are available at the OHP website, the Flu Central website and by emailing flu_vaccine@bcm.edu.

Learn more in this FAQ.

What is Baylor’s flu vaccine policy?
Baylor Medicine and Baylor College of Medicine’s flu vaccine policy requires employees and students to receive a flu vaccine annually. This policy is in line with many other healthcare organizations, including our own affiliated hospitals, and with the CDC’s recommendation that everyone over the age of 6 months receive a flu vaccine. Baylor faculty, staff, trainees and students, learn more here about the flu vaccination policy, flu shot calendar, attestation procedures and more.


Why is this policy important?

The flu vaccine policy is designed to help keep Baylor patients, as well as employees and students, healthy by reducing the spread of flu in the Baylor and Houston communities. This year, it’s especially important to keep our community healthy and safe to reduce the burden on our healthcare system of a concurrent pandemic and flu season.

In addition, the policy meets state requirements that healthcare facilities develop and implement policies to protect patients from vaccine preventable diseases and adheres to recommendations from the CDC and other organizations.


Where can I get my flu vaccine?

You can get your flu vaccine anywhere vaccines are offered, including local pharmacies, walk-in clinics, and your own physicians’ office. If you are a clinical employee in Baylor Medicine, you may be the able to get the flu vaccine in the clinic in which you work – contact your supervisor or department administrator.

You can also get the flu vaccine on campus at various locations through Baylor’s Occupational Health Program. You must reserve a time slot in advance through a mobile app or a web-based app in order to maintain physical distancing.

What do I do after I get my flu vaccine?

Regardless of where you receive your flu vaccine, you must attest that you received it. You can do this on the same app where you schedule your vaccine through OHP – available in a mobile app or web-based app.

Can I earn BCM BeWell Vitality points for my flu vaccine?

Yes, contact the BCM BeWell program at wellness@bcm.edu for more information.

Dr. Jill Weatherhead

Dr. Jill Weatherhead

The following questions were answered by Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an infectious diseases expert and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, and provide information to help keep your family, friends and the community safe this flu season.

When should I get my flu shot?

The influenza vaccine typically becomes available toward the end of August or early September. It takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop adequate antibodies to protect against influenza. Weatherhead suggests getting your flu vaccine during September or early October, prior to the onset of cases within the community. However, it is never too late to get your vaccine during the influenza season.

Which flu vaccine should I get?

The flu virus is always evolving, so each year the vaccine is updated or adapted based on predictions of what flu viruses will most likely be circulating. Depending on your age, the vaccine slightly differs in terms of potency. Individuals above the age of 65 should receive a high-dose vaccine. Anyone under 65 should take what is available, which is the trivalent or quadrivalent vaccine that will have different vaccine strains within it.

  • Trivalent vaccine: contains influenza A strains (H1N1 and H3N2), as well as an influenza B strain
  • Quadrivalent vaccine: contains the same components, as well as an additional influenza B strain

When does flu season begin?

Flu season can start early fall. Depending on the year, it can start in August. You may see an uptick in cases in September or October, but there is typically more widespread transmission after October.

When can children start getting the flu vaccine?

Children can start getting vaccines at six months of age, which is highly recommended because young children are very high risk for flu complications. Getting children vaccinated early and making sure individuals around the child are vaccinated is crucial.

Who is high risk for the flu?

Those at risk for complications from the flu are young children, adults over 65 years old, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems.

How do I know if I have the flu or COVID-19 when the symptoms are very similar?

Standard flu symptoms include fever, muscle aches, coughing, shortness of breath and fatigue. The overlap in symptomatology is significant, but there are a few isolated symptoms that are unique to COVID-19: the loss of taste or smell. Epidemiologic information, such as being in contact with someone who had the flu or COVID can help to aid in diagnostic accuracy. Testing is important to try to differentiate which virus is causing the symptoms.

Can I have the flu and coronavirus at the same time?

When coronavirus became more widespread, the flu season was diminishing locally, so there’s minimal information on flu and COVID-19 co-infection. It is possible to have co-infection, although there is no data on having both the flu and COVID-19 simultaneously just yet.

Can the flu vaccine combat COVID-19?

The flu vaccine will not prevent you from getting COVID-19, but it will prevent you from getting severely ill from influenza, and hopefully reduce the risk of requiring hospitalization. You can still get the flu if you have the vaccine, but it could be preventative and reduce symptoms and complications. Reducing flu disease can reduce the burden on our healthcare system while still trying to control COVID-19 within the community.

How can I know if I need to be tested for the flu or COVID-19?

Once there is documentation of viral transmission within the community, healthcare professionals will start testing for both at the same time as it is challenging to differentiate COVID-19 and flu based on symptoms alone.

If I get the flu, am I more at-risk for COVID-19, and vice versa?

You are not necessarily more at-risk in terms of getting infected, although any time you have a weakened immune system from any sort of other infectious pathogen, you could be at risk for additional infection.

What can parents and caregivers do to prevent their children from getting the flu?

A lot of the same strategies parents are teaching children to prevent COVID-19 also can help combat the flu: physical distancing, wearing a facial covering and washing hands as frequently as possible.

Will the flu season be lighter this year with the implementation of social distancing?

The mitigation strategies used for COVID-19 could play a major role in combating influenza or a severe influenza season this year. Because it spreads similarly through respiratory droplets, strategies to reduce viral transmission such as physical distancing and wearing facial coverings will help prevent a severe outbreak, if these measures are continued.