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Experts worry about triple threat at universities: COVID, flu, and monkeypox

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Posted at 4:00 AM, Aug 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-23 11:59:05-04

As monkeypox cases rise across the U.S. and here in Arizona, health experts worry about a possible triple threat on college campuses this fall as COVID-19 and flu remain top concerns as well.

Even though the sun is setting on summer 2022, the school year is just beginning to heat up, especially for Arizona's college students. According to a report from the Arizona Board of Regents, more than 204,000 students were enrolled in Arizona's three public universities last fall - many of them attending classes in person, a sign that things are improving in this pandemic.

But the more people are together, the more chances there are to spread disease.

"Our population is now more immunized," says Dr. Richard Carmona, former U.S. Surgeon General under President George W. Bush and current faculty member at the University of Arizona. "More people have been exposed, so we have a greater degree of protection."

But Dr. Carmona says that doesn't mean we can get our guards down - it's a sentiment University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins echoes.

"We are still seeing people die from COVID," he explains. Dr. Robbins also happened to be a trained medical doctor. During a recent COVID-19 Zoom update, Dr. Robbins implored students to get vaccinated for COVID.

We did some digging and found out UArizona and Arizona State University are offering vaccines and boosters on campus currently.

Northern Arizona University is offering vaccines off-site through Coconino County.

All three of Arizona's public universities are offering COVID testing on campus.

Now that college campuses across Arizona and the rest of the country are accustomed to dealing with COVID and flu, there is another health threat that's rearing its ugly head - monkeypox.

"I'm definitely concerned," says Dr. Robbins. "It's so new, it's getting a lot of headlines, and I thought it was important for us to have a discussion about it here - I still am much more concerned about COVID at this point because people are still dying from COVID."

ABC15 spoke with ASU, UArizona, and NAU officials -- all three public universities are currently offering screenings for monkeypox.