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Another national title

Carolina is defending its title as flu shot champions this year as experts say it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot.

A person gets a flu shot.
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz gets a flu shot on Polk Place. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

The “University of National Champions” may be good at racking up athletic accolades, but there’s a lesser-known national title for Tar Heels to brag about: Carolina is the reigning national champion for flu shots.

The University began participating in the Alana’s Foundation National College/University Flu Vaccination Challenge in 2018, a national competition to raise awareness of the importance of flu vaccines. Participants fill out a brief survey attesting that they received a flu vaccine, garnering a point for their college or university; the school with the most points wins.

The 2020 competition kicked off earlier this month, as did campus vaccination clinics. While getting a flu shot every year is recommended, experts say that amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important since it is possible to get COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.

“Either one can really knock you down, and the combination of the two could be devastating,” said Michelle Camarena, director of nursing for Campus Health.

Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz and Provost Bob Blouin got their vaccines on campus Wednesday.

“Taking precautions with our health is more important now than ever,” said a masked Guskiewicz. “I decided to get my flu shot early this year and hope others will too. This is not only for your benefit, but for the benefit of those around you.”

Flu season generally begins in October and lasts until March or April. The vaccine can protect individuals for up to six months, said Amy Sauls, director of pharmacy for Campus Health, which generally administers 8,000 flu vaccines a year to the Carolina community.

“We would love for it to be more,” she said.

Members of the Carolina community have a multitude of options for getting a flu vaccine. In addition to walk-up clinics throughout the end of October, the Student Stores Pharmacy and Campus Health offer walk-up flu shots. For more information visit flu.unc.edu.

And when you get your flu shot (even if you get it off campus), you can help Carolina win another national championship by visiting https://go.unc.edu/flushot and completing the Alana’s Foundation’s 30-second survey.