LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) -- Students and employees at University of California schools already have a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. But now, they will also have an influenza vaccine requirement, fearing what is being called a 'TWINDEMIC.'
We asked students at UC San Diego, "How often do you get the flu shot?"
"I've always gotten the flu vaccine," graduate student Mika Caplan said.
"I don't go out of my way to get it," sophomore Patrick Helco said. "What usually ends up happening is, when I have an appointment for something else, it becomes kind of an add-on at the end."
But for Ph.D. student Helen Wedegaertner, it was not always a priority.
"I have never had the flu, so I didn't feel as much of a need to protect myself," Wedegaertner said.
Pretty soon, she will not have a choice. Last week, the University of California issued an Executive Order requiring everyone who lives, studies, or works at UC schools to get the flu vaccine by November 19th. This would affect more than 500 thousand people.
"I think the pandemic has brought up a lot of serious questions about mandating people to get vaccinated for all kinds of diseases," Caplan said.
The UC system sited the increased potential for what scientists are now calling the "TWINDEMIC."
"You can get COVID and flu at the same time. We also know that they can share some similar symptoms, and especially in the beginning, you may not know which one you have," Dr. Abisola Olulade with Sharp Rees-Stealy said.
Dr. Olulade said she applauds the UC for implementing the mandate. According to San Diego County statistics, this year's flu season started much earlier. So far, there are 195 cases, compared to just six this time last year. Plus, symptoms are more severe.
"Because there wasn't as much flu activity last year, there is a decreased level of immunity on the population," Dr. Olulade said.
Wedegaertner said in recent years, she started getting the flu vaccine. She said she will continue to make a habit out of it.
"I realize that it's really important for me to be getting the flu vaccine to help our community at large," Wedegaertner said.
Flu shots will be available on campus, free of charge. Online students are not subject to this policy. People may opt out by submitting a form in writing but will be required to wear masks through the end of flu season.