Claremont Colleges to require flu vaccines for students if on-campus in spring

A sign that says "Free Flu Shot" is on a white building under a red and orange "Murrays" sign.
If the Claremont Colleges campuses reopen in the spring, every student will be required to show proof of a flu vaccination. (HuxleyAnn Huefner • The Student Life)

The Claremont Colleges will require students to get a flu vaccine if they’re allowed to return to campus for the spring 2021 semester, per new campus reopening protocol.

According to the protocol released by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, colleges that wish to reopen must require flu vaccines for any student who comes on campus and also “require[s] or strongly recommend[s]” that staff be immunized as well.

Public health officials have recommended flu vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the possibility of a severe flu season coinciding with a surge in COVID-19 cases, dubbed a “twindemic.” In this scenario, hospitals could become overwhelmed with both COVID-19 cases and seasonal flu cases.

In planning for a safe return to campus, Pomona College will adhere to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s protocol by requiring students on campus to have received influenza immunization as well as COVID-19 testing, Pomona Dean of Students Avis Hinkson said via email.

“While our policy has not been fully fleshed out as yet, we certainly can replicate the model we use for other medical requirements and documentation that is coordinated through SHS,” Hinkson said. 

Newly admitted 5C students are currently required to provide documentation to Student Health Services of standard vaccinations such as diphtheria, whooping cough, Hepatitis B and meningococcal, among others. SHS then provides Pomona with a list of students who have completed the requirements.

Claremont McKenna College will also require students to adhere to the guidelines set by the county. 

“I am able to confirm that students will be required to show proof of flu shots before coming to campus next semester,” CMC spokesperson Gilien Silsby said via email.

Harvey Mudd College has said they will follow the same protocol for bringing students back to campus in the spring.

“Yes, the flu shot will be mandatory for all students on campus. We are working with Student Health Services to provide the shots, but we encourage students who can get their flu shots now,” HMC spokesperson Judy Augsburger said via email. 

Pitzer College will also require students to receive a flu vaccine if they are brought back to campus, spokesperson Jim Marchant said.

A spokesperson for Scripps College did not respond to requests for comment. However, the college — per L.A. County guidelines — would need to require students to receive flu vaccines in order to reopen to students.

Samuel Freisem-Kirov HM ’22 said he has no hesitations on receiving a flu shot before returning to campus. 

“I’d be open to it. I think it’s generally a good idea for people to be vaccinated,” he said. 

Hershey Suri PO ’21 believes a vaccine could mitigate the number of community members falling sick amid the pandemic. 

“I come from a family of physicians, so I’m very pro-vaccine. I think that to minimize the [number of] people falling sick, having a vaccine — especially right now, given the pandemic — is probably the best,” Suri said. 

Thali Cobb PZ ’23 also supports a flu vaccine requirement for being back on campus. 

“Unless you are an anti-vaxxer, I see no harm in getting immunized to protect myself from other students,” Cobb said. 

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