Free Flu Shots Come with Opportunity to Contribute to a Better Vaccine

Miller School and UHealth students and employees can do their part for science this flu season when availing themselves of the free influenza vaccinations that are now available without an appointment at employee health offices across campus and at future health fairs.

Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., and Thomas M. Hooton, M.D., professor of clinical medicine and medical director of infection control and employee health for UHealth, hope protecting patients, the public, and their families health, in addition to their own health, will be incentive enough for employees and students to make this year’s vaccination campaign the most successful to date.

As Hooton noted, the University has an institutional culture that expects employees, students, and particularly health care workers who have direct patient contact to undergo vaccination. “We want everybody to participate – for their sake, for their family’s sake and for the patients’ sake,’’ Hooton said. “A lot of people aren’t exposed to patients but they are exposed to their family members and others. This is a public health issue. It’s not just a personal issue.’’

But, before rolling up their sleeves for their annual flu shots, employees who wish to contribute to science can donate about 50 ml of blood to help Miller School researchers conduct an NIH-funded study of how B cells contribute to the response to the vaccine, which decreases with age. Researchers are offering a $60 incentive for a total of three blood draws over a minimum of four weeks.

Last week, Dean Goldschmidt enthusiastically gave blood for the NIH study, when Sandra Chen Walta, DNP, ARNP, occupational health manager, administered his flu shot.

Led by Bonnie Blomberg, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology, the study, “Regulation of B lymphocyte defects in senescent humans,’’ is designed to develop better immune responses to vaccines in the elderly population. Study participants must donate the first of three required blood draws before receiving their shots, and can do both at the Benefits Fair scheduled at the Medical Wellness Center on October 20th and 21st. Otherwise, prospective participants can contact Blomberg’s lab at 305-243-6225 to schedule the first blood draw before heading to an employee health office for their vaccines.

“We are interested in recruiting healthy individuals from 20 to 90 years of age, without any pathology affecting the immune system, as well as type 2 diabetic patients of any age,’’ said Daniela Frasca, Ph.D., research assistant professor.

Free flu shots are available at employee health offices on the medical campus without an appointment at the following locations and times:
• Dominion Tower, Suite 405, Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: 305-243-8743

• University of Miami Hospital, West Building, Suite 502, Monday – Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: 305-689-5891

• Healthy ‘Canes Employee Clinic, Professional Arts Center, Suite 708, Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Phone: 305-243-8886

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