Seasonal influenza vaccinations 2018-19

The Sindecuse Health Center is offering vaccinations to Western Michigan University employees, students and retirees who want to protect themselves and the people around them from seasonal influenza beginning Sept. 10. Vaccinations will be administered to those individuals, as well as their eligible dependents, by appointment at the health center and at events planned for October.

Sept. 13, 2018 update: University employees with Blue Care Network HMO insurance are invited to the health center for flu shots. For these employees, there is no out-of-pocket cost for flu shots given at the health center or at the Benefits Expo in October (see below).

VACCINATION OPPORTUNITIES

The quadrivalent vaccine protects against four strains of the influenza virus and is available at Sindecuse Health Center and at two drop-in clinics. To make an appointment, go online to wmich.edu/healthcenter or call (269) 387-3287. Appointments are available:

  • Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Thursdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4:30 p.m.

Two drop-in clinics have been scheduled for October at the Bernhard Center:

  • Employees may receive a flu shot at the Benefits and Wellness Expo, Wednesday, Oct. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Students may attend a drop-in flu shot clinic in room 105 on Thursday, Oct. 25 from 10 a.m to 2 p.m.

THIMEROSAL-FREE VACCINE AVAILABLE

The seasonal flu vaccine contains thimerosal which is a mercury-based preservative that has been used for decades in the United States. Although rare, some people may be allergic to thimerosal. If you believe you are allergic to thimerosal, you should obtain an order from your primary care physician stating you must receive the preservative free vaccine. Sindecuse Health Center will only administer thimerosal-free doses to patients with an order.

TIMING YOUR VACCINATION

Multiple factors may influence the decision about when to get a flu shot. Infants, senior citizens, individuals with health conditions putting them at risk and their caregivers are advised to get a flu shot as soon as possible. Ask your health care provider if you have questions about timing.

The start of a flu outbreak changes from year to year. Outbreaks can start as early as October but tend to peak in January or later. Immune protection starts to decline several months after receiving the flu shot. Healthy individuals receiving flu vaccine at the end of October or early November may have more protection against flu virus outbreaks that occur later in the season.

STUDENTS MAY RECEIVE VACCINE AT NO COST

The Student Health Advisory Council has secured a grant from Alana’s Foundation and matching funds to cover the cost of vaccines for up to 160 uninsured and underinsured WMU students. Council members will be leading an effort to encourage students, faculty, and staff to get vaccinated and then vote in the College & University Flu Vaccination Challenge, sponsored by the Michigan Dept. of Health & Human Services. Anyone who has had the vaccine may vote in the online poll.

COST

WMU employees covered by the University's Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO group 007005281 and their covered dependents age 12 or older receive flu shots with no out-of-pocket expense at Sindecuse or one of the drop-in events. Other patients should check with their insurance carrier regarding benefits––many insurance companies treat seasonal flu immunization as a covered benefit.  WMU employees with Blue Care Network HMO insurance are also welcome to receive flu shots at the health center with no out-of-pocket cost.

For WMU retirees, flu shots are a covered benefit for those with MPSERS, Medicare or Medicare Advantage and for those without Medicare who are covered under WMU's Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO insurance plan.

If grant funding for uninsured and underinsured students has been used up, WMU students receiving flu vaccinations will be charged $20. Retirees without Medicare, non-benefits-eligible employees and their dependents will pay $30 per dose. High-dose vaccine will be given to patients 65 years or older who request it for $65 as supplies allow.

METHODS OF PAYMENT

Payments are accepted via personal check, cash or, in the case of students, a charge to a University student account. Employees not covered by insurance may use the payroll deduction plan. Sindecuse will bill insurance carriers for students and non-benefits-eligible employees who have provided insurance information. Credit card payments may be made only at the health center.