Students experience long lines for flu shots at Tang Center

photo of flu shot lines at Tang Center
Erica Cardozo/Staff
Students experience long waits at the Tang Center for flu shots. Drop-in flu vaccinations are held from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on days offered, and the process can be expedited by submitting the immunization consent form on the eTang portal.

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UC Berkeley students reported long lines for flu shots offered by the Tang Center after the University of California issued the flu vaccine mandate in October.

“Likely the last few days have been a bit more crowded as students are getting them before heading out to break,” said University Health Services spokesperson Tami Cate in an email.

According to Cate, the wait time at the Tang Center is an hour to 90 minutes.

The Tang Center is limited in capacity, with four staff members administering the vaccines on a given day, Cate noted. In previous months, the Pauley Ballroom provided more space and staff to administer the vaccine, with upwards of seven vaccine administrators.

Cate also noted that the clinic is drop-in only and students are unable to schedule appointments ahead of time.

According to ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President James Weichert, the “irregular” timing of the clinic has posed challenges for some students.

Campus freshman Camila Gamero said the Tang Center cut off lines an hour before closing due to the high number of students waiting. Gamero added that more than 50 students were waiting in line at the time of her vaccination.

Katelyn Kolberg, a campus freshman, said the long lines were a potential obstacle to students attending class on time. She added that sign-up time slots could offer the chance for students to stagger vaccinations and decrease wait times.

Despite the wait, she noted the ease of the process.

“It went pretty smoothly — the nurses were very welcoming and it was pretty easy to show your health badge and get in,” Kolberg said.

According to Kolberg, students who receive a flu shot at the Tang Center do not need to manually upload their proof of vaccination onto the eTang patient portal, making the process “seamless.”

Additionally, she chose the on-campus clinic to take advantage of the free insurance benefits with the Student Health Insurance Plan, or SHIP.

The Tang Center clinic provides 400 to 500 shots per day, according to Cate.

Drop-in flu vaccinations are available 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on days the mass clinic is offered. According to Cate, there are steps students can take to expedite the process, including completing the flu immunization consent form in advance on the eTang portal.

Cate noted that flu shots are also available at local pharmacies, which are covered by SHIP and most health insurances as a preventive benefit. In addition, the flu shot may be available at regular clinical or primary care appointments with the Tang Center.

“It was great to see that UHS was putting in the effort to provide this to students because if you look on Walgreens or CVS websites the wait times were in excess of two weeks, so this provides a fast track for UC Berkeley students,” Weichert said.

Contact Lily Button at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @lilybutton27.