Fighting the flu

GVL / Courtesy - Metro Connection

GVL / Courtesy – Metro Connection

Drew Howard

In preparation for the upcoming flu season, the Campus Flu Vaccination Battle will pit universities across the state of Michigan against one another in a competition to see who can get the most of their student body vaccinated.

Sponsored by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHSS), universities will compete against one another according to size. The winners are announced in April.

Grand Valley State University organizations such as the Kirkhof College of Nursing, the Family Health Center and the student pre-med club will lend their resources to help raise awareness about the competition as well as the importance of flu vaccinations.

Over 2,200 quadrivalent flu vaccinations provided by the MDHSS are scheduled to be dispersed to the whole community during walk-in clinics on the Allendale Campus, DeVos Center, Family Health Center, Meijer Campus, Center for Health Sciences and the Robert B. Annis Water Resource Institute.

Justin Tarahomi, president of the pre-med cub, said one of the goals of the Campus Flu Vaccination Battle is to raise the low flu vaccination coverage reported in the 2014-15 season by the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR).

“The purpose of the competition is to increase the coverage rate for flu vaccinations among 18 to 24-year-old students,” Tarahomi said. “Last year the coverage rate was 10.8 percent. We know student success correlates with health, so if you have to miss a week of class this can affect both attendance and grades.”

Out of the 1,772 people vaccinated on GVSU’s campus last year, only 179 of them were students.

Tarahomi said it was important for the pre-med club to get involved in order to give a student perspective on the importance of flu vaccinations.

“A large showing of people who get this vaccine are faculty because there isn’t a large student voice telling students to get vaccinated,” Tarahomi said. “Our role is to be that voice and encourage our peers to get the vaccine to better affect the health of the entire community.”

Members of pre-med club will help promote the upcoming clinics the week prior with a table on the Kirkhof Center main floor.

At the table, students can either pre-register for a clinic or fill out a survey indicating whether they have been vaccinated. The results will go directly toward GVSU’s total count in the Campus Flu Vaccination Battle.

“The week prior to the clinics we are pre-registering people to make the check-in process at the clinics more streamlined,” Tarahomi said. “There will be walk-in clinics too, so if you don’t pre-register it’s not an issue. However, you will have to fill out a form once you get there.”

Kimberly Fenbert, pediatric nurse practitioner at GVSU’s Family Health Center, said she encourages students to get the flu vaccination despite the popular myth that it might be harmful.

“The injectable flu vaccine is made from a dud virus, so there’s no way to actually get sick,” Fenbert said. “Getting vaccinated is so worth it, especially when students live on campus together and are in close quarters. Not only are they protecting themselves, they’re protecting each other.”

Clinics on the Allendale Campus will take place in the Kirkhof Center Room 1142 on Oct. 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Oct. 30 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Nov. 3 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The quadrivalent flu vaccination will cost $30. Students are allowed to pay through a GVSU student account by presenting their student ID to the flu clinics located outside the Family Health Center.

To learn more about the competition, visit