Columbia Health Flu Season Information

The most effective means to limit the spread of illness is to get a flu vaccine.

Columbia Health strongly encourages the Columbia community to take measures that safeguard their family, friends and colleagues during flu season.

During the first half of Fall semester, Columbia Health hosted a series of flu fairs for members of the entire Columbia community where they received free flu vaccines with no appointment necessary... they just had to show their Columbia University ID.

The 2019 Flu Fairs are now completed but you can still get the vaccine. Scroll down to see how you can avail of the vaccine at Medical Services and how to protect yourself throughout the season.

Don't miss next year's flu fairs! Sign up to receive e-mail updates about the seasonal flu vaccine.

Columbia students on the Morningside Campus and spouses/partners enrolled in the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan can receive a flu shot at Medical Services in John Jay Hall on a walk-in basis. 

The following University-affiliated members must receive their flu shot at their school, department, or a private provider:

  • Morningside faculty, staff, and dependents  - must receive their flu shot at a participating local pharmacy or health care provider in the community. (Note: Children under 18 years of age are covered for the flu vaccine under the Columbia Student Insurance Dependent Plan.)
  • CUIMC faculty and staff - must receive their vaccine through Workforce Health & Safety (WH&S), on Milstein Hospital Building 2nd floor and in Harkness Pavilion on the 1st and 7th floors, Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Preventive Measures

  • Get a flu vaccine!
  • Use good hand hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleansers are equally effective.
  • Try to avoid casually touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact, such as hugging or kissing, with others who are ill.
  • Avoid sharing food, utensils, cups and water bottles.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  • If you become ill, limit your contact with others to keep from exposing them.
  • Disinfect surfaces with a household cleaner, focusing on light switches, handles, telephones, doorknobs and other surfaces people touch frequently.
  • Remain in your residence hall or at home for at least 24 hours after you no longer have fever (without the use of medications that reduce fever, like Motrin or Tylenol).

CDC Guidelines for Seasonal Flu Shot

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued universal guidance recommending all individuals six (6) months of age or older receive the seasonal flu shot. It is especially important for those in the following high-risk groups to receive a shot due to risk of serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk of developing flu-related complications:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children younger than five (5) years of age
  • People 50 years of age or older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, etc.)
  • People who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from the flu, including:
    • Healthcare workers
    • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications of the flu
    • Household contacts or caregivers of children less than six (6) months old

The flu vaccine is generally safe and effective, and utilizes an inactivated flu vaccine, which contains killed viruses. The flu vaccine protects against multiple flu viruses.