GV offers flu shot clinics ahead of harsh, post-COVID flu season


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Grace Smith, Staff Writer

As a result of COVID-19 being the focus of public health professionals during the last few cold and flu seasons, many experts are suggesting that a particularly severe flu variant may be approaching.

As Australian flu data is normally indicative of what is to come for the western hemisphere, the numbers could potentially serve as an omen of one of the worst flu seasons in five years. Such effects are suggested to be a result of decreased public health regulations such as mask mandates and increased social interaction as the effects of the pandemic begin to dwindle.

Data from previous years suggest that flu season in Michigan is at its worst around mid-November, with the greatest number of patients testing positive for the H3N2 variant of Influenza A in comparison to other times of the year.

College students are considered to be an especially vulnerable population in regards to spreading the virus, as close living quarters, shared facilities and a surplus of social activities can cause illness to spread quickly through campuses.

To mitigate such risks, Grand Valley State University’s Family Health Center has worked to make the flu vaccine easily accessible to students and faculty for the 2022-23 flu season. The center has already hosted five vaccination clinics this year in a variety of locations at GVSU’s Allendale campus and both of its campuses in downtown Grand Rapids. The center is planning on hosting six more clinic dates between now and Oct. 28.

“What we’re doing is having the accessibility to the flu shot, because we know it can be hard to get off campus,” said Patient Services Manager Brianne Burke.

Burke said on the days of the clinic students are welcome to either sign up or walk in during the two-hour windows that they are open. The clinic will also bill participants’ insurance so there are no out-of-pocket costs at the time of the service. Students will also be able to receive official documentation of obtaining their flu shot for the year.

Research from the CDC indicates that obtaining a flu shot every year is an important factor in minimizing the risks associated with the flu season. Current studies show that receiving the flu vaccine can reduce the contraction of the virus from 40% to 60%.

“With living in close quarters and going to class, especially now that masking is not as popular and prevalent, our immune systems kind of weakened throughout COVID, because we were masking and distancing,” Burke said. “Without that, we are seeing the trends in Australia were really high with the flu, because they are usually a predictor of what kind of flu season we are going to have.”

Students interested in receiving their flu shot through one of GVSU’s clinics are invited to visit the GVSU Family Health Center website.