COVID-19 response weekly update: testing and annual flu shots

COVID-19 response weekly update: testing and annual flu shots

September 14, 2020

Dear colleagues,

In my Sept. 8 message, I provided updates on testing, the contact tracing app, and the outdoor tents. This week I have updates on testing and the annual flu shot.

Testing. Over the last seven days, we tested about 4,200 people. No one tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 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 can sign up at (Enter this security code provided in your Rice email).

If you have questions about your tests, please email If email is not convenient for you, you can phone the Rice Community Call Center at (713) 348-4224.

Flu Shots. “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.

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 going to the Fondren Library today, Sept. 14, or Wednesday, Sept. 16. Walgreens personnel will accept insurance cards and administer the vaccines at no charge.
  • 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 October 30. 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.

Faculty and Staff - For faculty and staff, the flu shot is not required but it is strongly encouraged. The quadrivalent flu shot is covered by our Aetna health plans and you can get it through your doctor or pharmacy. It will be offered on campus in a few weeks, and this year there will be a drive-up option. Look for an announcement from Human Resources later this week.

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