With a 101-degree fever and non-stop cough, Robert Reiman dragged himself to Duke Urgent Care last year.
He had the flu.
Doctors told Reiman that his case would be worse if he hadn’t received the flu vaccine. Reiman gets a vaccine every year at Duke University Hospital during the “blitz,” when the health system vaccinates as many faculty and staff as early as possible as a condition of employment.
A flu vaccine can vary in how well it works. For example, a vaccine may not match all strains of the virus in circulation, and it’s still possible to get the flu. And it takes your body two weeks to develop immunity to flu strains. But the vaccination is the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications.
“Getting sick made me realize why it’s so important to get a flu shot,” said Reiman, associate professor of radiology for the Duke University Medical Physics Graduate Program. “It could have been a lot more worse if I hadn’t gotten the shot.”
Beginning Sept. 20, all Duke staff and faculty can receive a free flu vaccine at roving clinics around campus and at Duke Employee Occupational Health and Wellness (EOHW). Vaccines are available at the EOHW office from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (except noon to 2 p.m. Wednesdays). The office is located in the Orange Zone of the Duke Clinic.
For this season, Duke will have the quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against four strains of flu viruses, and an egg-free option for individuals with allergies.
“The flu vaccine is really the one preventive measure that we can take to try to stop or lower the risk we will be affected,” said Carol Epling, director of EOHW.
Certain Duke Primary Care locations in Durham, Orange and Wake counties will have extended and weekend hours starting September 22 to provide flu vaccines for children and dependents of Duke employees. No copay is necessary unless the patient sees a doctor.
Dependents not covered by a Duke health plan can still receive a vaccine. Most health plans cover vaccinations and a self-pay discount is available to people without insurance coverage.
Employees are encouraged to make appointments for their dependents at Duke Primary Care locations by calling 1-855-372-1981. Walk-ins are allowed by may require a longer wait time. See the Duke dependent flu vaccine schedule for upcoming dates and locations.
About 31,000 employees received a vaccine through Duke last season. North Carolina had 389 deaths related to influenza during the 2017-18 season, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
The flu vaccine, or an accepted medical or religious exemption, is a condition of employment in the Health System and for many School of Medicine employees.
Visit the Duke flu site for a full vaccination schedule. A valid DukeID must be presented, and no appointment is necessary.