GVSU preps to stay on top of flu season

GVL / Courtesy - Metro Connection

GVL / Courtesy – Metro Connection

Meghan McBrady

Beyond pumpkin spiced lattes, knitted sweaters and trips to the cider mill, the fall season also ushers in the ever-dreaded flu season.

With the influenza virus soon affecting students, faculty and staff at Grand Valley State University, it is helpful for the GVSU community to understand the various symptoms that correlate with the respiratory illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, common symptoms of the flu include fever, coughing, sore throat, muscle or body aches and fatigue.

However, the CDC also emphasized that not everyone with the flu will have a fever and should continue to look out for other symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose or headaches.

Kristin Paridee, the assistant general manager at the Metro Health Center in Allendale and the Campus Health Center at GVSU, said the reason why the flu could spread so quickly across a college campus like GVSU is due to the changing weather and the close contact the community has with one another.

“It is spread by air droplets when you sneeze or cough and can travel up to a six-foot radius when you either sneeze or cough,” she said. “So it is best for a student to cover their nose and clean their surrounding surface with a disinfect wipe, because the germs might still be alive and be on the surface of their desk or chair.”

She said it is best to get a doctor’s prescription to medicate the illness if caught in the first 24 hours and students should then drink plenty of fluids to flush out of their bodies.

“Resting, staying home from classes to prevent the overall spread of the respiratory illness and drinking fluids is highly recommended,” she said. “Ultimately, having a healthy diet to support your immune system and by staying hydrated will help in the end.”

Ericka Janes, a senior and nursing student at GVSU, said it is also important for students to stay up to date on flu shots in order to avoid a more strenuous illness later in the school year.

“The two biggest things you can do for yourself and others around you in order to avoid the flu is getting your flu shot early in the flu season, like in October rather than December,” Janes said. “Secondly, wash your hands in warm water as frequently as possible, as washing your hands often is the absolute best way to avoid getting sick.”

Paridee added that flu vaccinations will be available in October at the Campus Health Center.

It is best, she said, to start calling in the next few weeks to make an appointment for the shot.

“While we don’t currently have the vaccines on hand, it is best to call the center by early October in order to see if they are ready to make appointments for students,” she said.

The Campus Health Center is located at 10383 42nd Ave. Suite A on the Allendale Campus. To schedule an appointment, call (616) 252-6030.

The center’s hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays and Friday and are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays to Thursdays. Holiday hours may vary.