COVID-19 response weekly update: testing and the annual flu shot

COVID-19 response weekly update: testing and the annual flu shot

September 28, 2020

Dear colleagues,

In my Sept. 21st message, I provided updates on testing and information on Tropical Storm Beta. This week I have another update on testing as well as information on the annual flu shot.

COVID-19 cases in the greater Houston area continue to decline and there has not been an increase in cases after the Labor Day weekend, as we have seen after other holiday weekends this year. A good source of information on this is the Texas Medical Center website.

Testing. Over the last seven days, we tested about 4,400 people. Seven people tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We have no evidence of transmission from any of the seven positive cases to each other. Rice’s testing statistics, along with isolation and quarantine data, can be found on the COVID-19 website:

This week, we’re testing at our intended regular capacity of 1,000 PCR tests a day. We’ve been contacting the people we hope to test every week (based on return to work plans, grad student surveys and on-campus instructors identified by the registrar). But if you’ve not been contacted for a test and for any reason you feel you should be tested (if you’re on-campus and having sufficient contact with other people), you should sign up at (Enter this security code: 83590137). Please be sure to confirm you’ve provided all the requested information correctly when you sign up for a test appointment (especially your birth date, email, and NetID). You should receive a confirmation email shortly after scheduling your test. You must bring your confirmation email with a QR code (either on your phone or a printed copy) to check in to your testing appointment. If you do not receive a confirmation email, please contact because that means there’s probably an error that may also delay the delivery of your test results.

Annual Flu Shot. “This season a flu vaccine is more important than ever,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An informative CDC primer on the similarities and differences between the flu and COVID-19 can be found here. The flu vaccine is now widely available.

Faculty and Staff. For faculty and staff, the flu shot is being offered on campus starting Friday, Oct. 2, in the Kyle Morrow Room of Fondren Library from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointment is necessary. Just bring your Rice ID. Other dates and times for on-campus vaccinations will be announced by Human Resources this week, and this year there will be a drive-up option.

The quadrivalent flu shot is covered by our Aetna health plans and you can also get it through your doctor or pharmacy.

Graduate and Undergraduate Students. The flu shot is required at Rice for both graduate and undergraduate students. Students can get the vaccine in a number of ways.

  • By getting a flu shot through their doctor or pharmacy.
  • By making an appointment at Student Health Services at (713) 348-4966. The shots at SHS cost $18, but students will receive a coded receipt they can submit to their insurance companies for reimbursement. Aetna student health plans cover the full cost.

Students should submit proof of vaccination with their student ID numbers to SHS by Oct. 30. Instructions for submitting proof of vaccination can be found at Students who want an exemption from the vaccine can apply for one by using the State of Texas vaccine waiver form, by submitting a licensed physician’s letter regarding medical contraindication or by scheduling a phone visit to discuss their concerns with an SHS medical professional.

Kevin Kirby
Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee
Vice President for Administration