Flu season, endemic COVID-19 prompt renewed virus prevention efforts at GV


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Grace Smith, Staff Writer

For the last two years, Grand Valley State University has experienced mild cold and flu seasons as a result of public health measures such as social distancing intended to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Although many in the campus community were vocal as to what they saw as multiple downsides to such preventative measures, others took solace in the ability to avoid the common cold.

The 2022-23 cold and flu season is shaping up to be something different this year.

Experts are beginning to acknowledge that, although vaccines have made the virus significantly less lethal than it was at the onset of the pandemic, COVID-19 has earned its place in the annual onset of cold and flu season.

Many experts, including those at Yale University’s School of Public Health and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, have already concluded that COVID-19 will begin to largely shift more toward endemic models. They stated it will become something similar to the flu that will persistently ebb and flow with the seasons, becoming significantly more prevalent in colder months.

White House officials have also referred to COVID-19 vaccination as something similar to the flu vaccination, requiring an updated booster each fall to protect oneself against the most common and mutated variants. The newest booster this fall stands to protect against the Omicron variant, which is shaping up to be the newest wave of the COVID-19 virus.

As a result, GVSU students may face a collision of both COVID-19 and a revived cold and flu season as the university is expected to remain at COVID Alert Level Zero for the foreseeable future.

Students are encouraged to be aware of their options as the colder months approach.

One option for students will be the upcoming flu shot clinics hosted by the GVSU Family Health Center to help the community get protected. The first of these clinics will be held Sept. 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center on the university’s Allendale campus.

GVSU’s Community Health Advisory Team will also be hosting a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Oct. 14 from 12 to 5 p.m. in Kirkhof Center. Event leaders request that attendees bring their GVSU student IDs and their vaccination cards.

GVSU students are also preparing to keep themselves healthy during cold and flu season in a variety of ways. Senior Aaron Pope said that staying healthy during the school year is one of his priorities for the fall.

“Regular handwashing is definitely a must,” Pope said. “Try to limit large gatherings during COVID season and have fun in open environments.”

Senior Ally Bayes also shared her strategies for managing her health during the winter. Bayes said that she will be focusing on maintaining a good diet and exercising regularly.

“I will be eating more home-cooked meals and less fast food,” Bayes said. “I am also drinking more water and maintaining my fitness health by going to the gym four to five times a week.”

Other students are using tried and true measures to help manage the onset of symptoms, as the back-to-school colds make their yearly rounds. Sophomore Halle Bauer said she has her own favorite strategy to help keep cold symptoms at bay.

“I personally use the Emergen-C packets that you put in water,” Bauer said. “Those save me when I’m sick. If I start to feel a cold coming on, I drink one of those and it’s game-changing.”

However students choose to manage their colds, guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pertaining to the common cold, flu, or COVID-19 remain available for public adherence.

If students begin to become ill, they are encouraged to seek treatment from one of GVSU’s Health Centers.