Oberlin College requires flu shots as part of COVID-19 strategy



OBERLIN — Every Oberlin College student who steps foot on campus will be required to get a flu shot this fall, and provide proof no later than Nov. 1.

The rule applies not only to fall students, but also those who attend other semesters, as well as anyone who studies remotely but will visit campus for any reason, according to an Office of Communications bulletin.

“It is more important than ever for students to get a flu shot this year,” it said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending flu vaccinations for everyone ages six months and older this fall.

By reducing the spread and severity of the seasonal flu, the CDC hopes to limit the strain on hospitals and intensive care units across the nation.

The plan is also intended to “reduce symptoms that might be confused with those of COVID-19.”

Coronavirus symptoms such as cough, fever, runny nose and difficulty breathing are also common to the flu.

Oberlin College describes its flu vaccination strategy, which will kick into gear Oct. 1, as “aggressive.”

Flu shots will be given free of charge to all students after their mandatory COVID-19 testing is done at the Williams Field House.

Exceptions will be made for those who have certain allergies, bad reactions to vaccinations or certain medical conditions.

About 3,500 students, staff and faculty at Oberlin are being tested each month with the help of Mercy Health Allen Hospital and a Chicago-based laboratory Tempus.

Since mid-August, 13 people have tested positive. The most recently results, released Monday, Sept. 28, show 815 people tested through the week, with two positive cases.

In a video interview that’s part of the college’s ObieSafe campaign, second-year psychology major Diana Montero said she doesn’t feel “super safe” going to her two in-person classrooms, and is most at ease in her room. “It’s been going pretty well. It feels weirdly normal at this point, too,” she said.

“I’ve felt really safe in all of my classes and have been really grateful to have professors who take COVID really seriously,” said fourth-year environmental studies and politics double-major Brigit Cann.

In a July interview, President Carmen Twillie Ambar said it’s not possible to completely insulate Oberlin College from the danger posed by COVID-19, and predicted there would be cases.

But Oberlin hasn’t come anywhere close to experiencing the kind of trouble that has plagued other colleges this fall, especially larger ones.