Prepping for fall flu season

GVL / Marissa Dillon

GVL / Marissa Dillon

The Grand Valley State University Kirkhof College of Nursing is providing influenza vaccinations for students, faculty, staff and other community members. The clinic will have hours Monday through Wednesday of next week.

Ann Sheehan, Kirkhof College of Nursing assistant dean for practice, said the GVSU Family Health Center nurses, GVSU College of Nursing faculty and nursing students administer the shots every year.

Although Sheehan encourages everyone to get the flu shot, she said college students may be more highly susceptible to the virus.

“College students are at high risk for contracting this disease because they live in close proximity to other students,” she said. “They may share food or drinks and touch others’ cell phones or computers that are contaminated.”

Another problem that college students may face is getting so sick that they need to miss class or work. Sheehan added that students who have respiratory diseases, such as asthma, are even more at risk for other problems that may lead to hospitalization.

“The virus spreads so rapidly and easily from person to person by virus infected droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air,” Sheehan said. “There have been cases where a person has died due to complications from the flu.”

It is important for people to obtain a flu shot every year, Sheehan said, because of the new influenza strains that emerge. The vaccines change to counteract these, and a person’s immunity usually lasts nine months to a year, so a new vaccine is necessary.

The GVSU flu services coincide with the Michigan Department of Community Health’s challenge for college students throughout the state to get their flu shots before National Influenza Vaccination Week in early December. Sheehan said this is a great way to promote the importance of the shot for everyone.

“College students tend to think the flu won’t affect them so they don’t tend to seek out opportunities to get vaccinated,” she said. “It is our goal at the FHC and College of Nursing to promote a healthy campus. This can only be achieved when the awareness of the need for and the opportunity to receive the vaccine are available.”

Sheehan said the vaccinations for GVSU employees and their dependents are free, but it costs $25 for students. Some insurance companies will cover the vaccine. However, if students need to pay out-of-pocket, they can charge their GVSU accounts. She said anyone who wants to get a shot should bring their insurance card, GVSU identification card and form of payment.

Andrew Deschaine, a nursing major at GVSU, said he thinks it is important to get an annual flu shot because if he gets sick, he might end up losing time and money.

“I get vaccinated as a requirement for school and work, which is done with no hesitation as I come into contact with a lot of people and the risk of me getting sick or me getting others sick with the flu is too great,” Deschaine said.

Deschaine added that he would take advantage of the GVSU College of Nursing’s service because it is convenient and a reasonable price.

Those who cannot get to a vaccination clinic during the times listed below can call the GVSU Family Health Center at (616) 988-8774 to make an appointment.

Flu shots are available:

  • Monday, Sept. 22 from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the GVSU Family Health Center in Grand Rapids
  • Tuesday, Sept. 23 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the DeVos Center in Grand Rapids
  • Wednesday, Sept. 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kirkhof Center in Allendale

For more information about the flu and getting vaccinated, visit

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