Pharmacy School, City Partnership Provides Free Flu Shots to Angelenos

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti receives a flu shot from Richard Dang, assistant professor at the USC School of Pharmacy, on Sept. 22, 2020. (Photo by Isaac Mora)

The USC School of Pharmacy has partnered with the City of Los Angeles to provide free flu vaccinations at various COVID-19 testing locations across the city. With flu season quickly approaching and COVID-19 remaining a threat, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged Angelenos to get flu shots in hopes of avoiding a “twindemic” during a news conference at the Weingart East L.A. YMCA in Boyle Heights on Tuesday, September 22.

“Every year the flu affects some people in a very extreme way and those hospital beds can become competitive between COVID-19 patients and flu patients and overwhelm our hospitals,” Garcetti said.

Starting September 22, flu shots are being offered to Los Angeles residents for free, with or without insurance, at the city’s mobile COVID-19 testing sites. Appointments are not needed for the flu shots through the program.

“The goal is to bring COVID-19 testing and flu vaccines to people in the city who can’t easily access these services,” said USC School of Pharmacy Assistant Professor Richard Dang, who oversees the free flu vaccination initiative.

Everyone 6 months of age and older should start getting a flu shot now, before flu season begins, said USC School of Pharmacy Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Sept. 22, USC School of Pharmacy Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos talks about why it is especially important for people to get a flu vaccine this year. (Photo by Isaac Mora)

“It is likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading these coming months. So this year, it is more important than ever to get a flu vaccine,” said Papadopoulos, who noted that pharmacists play a critical role in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and especially when it comes to vaccinations. “Not only does it protect you and your loved ones against the flu, but as the mayor said, it can also save healthcare resources for the care of patients affected by COVID-19.”

Each mobile flu shot site will be staffed with a mix of USC pharmacists, residents and students currently enrolled in an Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE) or Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE) rotation. COVID-19 precautions are taken to protect staff and patients.

Los Angeles resident Elizabeth Meza received her first-ever flu shot during the program’s launch on Tuesday and said she was surprised at how quick the process was.

Los Angeles resident Elizabeth Meza receives a free flu shot during the pilot program’s launch on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020 at the Weingart East L.A. YMCA. (Photo by Isaac Mora)

“It was so easy and painless,” Meza said. “I’m going to tell my friends and family to come too.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the City of Los Angeles program or finding a new location can visit coronavirus.lacity.org/flushot.