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Harvard Providing Flu Vaccine to Patients but Not Covid Boosters

Harvard has begun administering the flu vaccine but said it is not providing Covid-19 booster shots in a Tuesday email.
Harvard has begun administering the flu vaccine but said it is not providing Covid-19 booster shots in a Tuesday email. By Angela Dela Cruz
By Alex M. Koller and Taylor C. Peterman, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard has begun administering the flu vaccine but said it is not providing Covid-19 booster shots currently due to a “limited supply” of Covid-19 vaccine doses.

Harvard University Health Services Chief Medical Officer Soheyla D. Gharib wrote in an email to patients Tuesday that Harvard is “focusing” on providing the Covid-19 vaccine to University affiliates who have yet to receive their first or second doses, and encouraged individuals eligible to receive a booster dose to seek out alternative providers.

“Unfortunately, HUHS has a limited supply of vaccine and we are currently focusing on patients who have not received their first or second doses,” Gharib wrote.

As of Sept. 22, 95 percent of Harvard students and 96 percent of employees were fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the University’s Covid-19 web page. Harvard requires vaccination against Covid-19 for all affiliates and administered the vaccine to individuals who were unable to secure doses prior to their arrival on campus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends a Covid-19 booster shot for the following groups of people who received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine more than six months ago: people who are aged 65 years and older; adults with underlying medical conditions; adults living in long-term care facilities; and adults at increased risk of Covid-19 exposure.

The CDC also recommends a booster shot for immunocompromised people who received the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 28 days ago.

People eligible for a booster can receive the additional shot at several health clinics located in Cambridge and the surrounding area, including Central Square’s CVS, Star Market, and the Cambridge Health Alliance Somerville Vaccine Center.

In her email, Gharib also wrote that HUHS is holding its annual flu vaccination clinics on Mondays and Tuesdays from noon to 3 p.m. for the remainder of the fall semester, as influenza season approaches. Vaccine clinics are located on the second floor of the Smith Campus Center. Affiliates must schedule an appointment on the HUHS patient portal website or via phone call in advance to receive the flu vaccine.

Patients seemed eager to take advantage of Harvard’s vaccination services.

Flu vaccine clinics began operating Monday, and as of Tuesday night, the earliest available flu shot appointment on the HUHS patient portal was Nov. 2.

University spokesperson Jason A. Newton wrote in an emailed statement that Harvard is working to provide additional flu vaccine clinics to meet student demand.

—Staff writer Alex M. Koller can be reached at alex.koller@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexmkoller.

—Staff writer Taylor C. Peterman can be reached at taylor.peterman@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @taylorcpeterman.

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