University to offer flu shots

The Campus Health Center administers flu shots

Rachel Dwyer

The Campus Health Center administers flu shots

Samantha Butcher

Both health centers affiliated with Grand Valley State University will provide flu vaccines for students, faculty and staff in the coming weeks.

The GVSU Family Health Center, located at 72 Sheldon Blvd SE in Grand Rapids, is offering flu shot clinics for GVSU faculty, staff and students through Oct. 7.

The vaccine is free for retirees, faculty, staff and their families. There is a $25 charge for students payable by cash or check, but insurance will cover the charge. Students who plan to pay with insurance must bring their insurance card with them to the clinic. Everyone who comes to the clinics will also have to fill out a short questionnaire.

The GVSU Campus Health Center, located on the south end of campus in front of Brian’s Books, will also be offering two clinics for students on Oct. 9 and Oct. 16. These clinics will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and there will be a $31.20 charge for uninsured students.

The flu vaccine provides protection from three strains of the flu virus: influenza A/H3N2, influenza B and H1N1. Unlike last year, flu shots will be administered on a first come first served basis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection recommend that everyone 6 months and older be vaccinated. However, people who have severe egg allergies, certain medical conditions or are ill should consult a doctor before being vaccinated.

Laurel Jackson, the practice manager at the FHC, said that there will be a strong effort this year to vaccinate as many GVSU faculty, staff and students as possible.

“We used to just do faculty, staff and dependents, but this year we’re vaccinating students as well,” she said. “The university is doing a big push toward getting everyone compliant and keeping our campus healthy, so part of that is making vaccinations accessible for students.”

Jackson said that dorm living gives diseases like influenza the opportunity to spread uninhibited, which makes it important for students on campus to receive the shot. The FHC began the week with 3,200 doses of the flu shot, but Jackson said that they could order more if they saw a demand.

Mary Jo Miedema, nursing case manager at the FHC, said that she hopes misconceptions about the vaccination will not keep students away from the clinics.

“There are some misconceptions that the flu shot will make you sick, but it’s not possible for the vaccine itself to give somebody the flu because it’s inactivated,” she said. “Oftentimes their body is responding and building an immune response to that so they may feel a bit tired, but if they truly were to get the flu it was most likely because they were exposed to that in the days prior to receiving the vaccine.”

The CDC said patients may experience some minor side effects from the vaccine, which include soreness, redness or swelling at the site of the injection, hoarseness, sore, red or itchy eyes, cough, fever or aches. Side effects should subside one to two days after being vaccinated. If symptoms persist, recipients are encouraged to contact their medical provider.

While the vaccine’s side effects may deter some, both Miedema and the CDC warn that contracting the flu could be far more debilitating.

“Besides complications from the illness itself leading to illness and death, it can causes a lot of lost time and productivity from work and school,” Miedema said. “It’s often much more than a 24-hour bug. True influenza can be debilitating and put somebody flat in bed for five to seven days, if not longer, and not any of us can really afford lost time from work, school or family.”

The FHC will hold clinics today in DeVos Center Building C from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Next week, clinics will be held Monday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the FHC, Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Room 331 of the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the upper lobby of the Fieldhouse.

After Oct. 7, vaccinations will be available at the FHC by appointment. For more information, contact the FHC at 616-988-8775 or at or the Campus Health Center at 616-252-3922.

[email protected]