Sarah Widener–Staff Writer
The flu season is just around the corner which means right now is the time to prepare—by getting a flu vaccine. The on-campus student health services is here to help students prevent the flu and recover from it quickly. Prevention and preparation are the key elements to limiting the sick time, which often results in missing classes and work.
“Influenza will be back on campus after Christmas break,” said Beth Baas, the director of Dordt’s Student Health and Counseling Center.
Influenza, the technical name for the flu, comes in many strands or types. Flu shots are designed to cover most of the strands currently in the country. The flu vaccine prompts the body to create antibodies designed to fight the flu. Not only does the flu shot help students avoid the flu, but if one should still come down with the illness, the vaccine will help speed up recovery. This fact is further explained on the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Some students fear that the flu shot will make them sick. Baas busted this myth by explaining that the flu shot may trigger a low grade fever and body aches, but this is actually a good sign. It means that the body is making the antibodies needed to protect them from the flu.
Students with chronic medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes are at increased risk of complications from the flu. Complications can include pneumonia requiring hospitalization. According to Bass, flu shots are critical for these students.
The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine sometime in late October or early November. Getting the vaccine later in the fall provides protection further into the flu season. A typical flu season on Dordt’s campus runs from the beginning of second semester through spring break. The vaccine takes two weeks to become fully effective.
The flu vaccine, while not offered on campus, is available many places in Sioux Center. A complete list of locations is available online on Dordt’s Student Health and Counseling Center webpage. Most insurance providers cover the flu shot. Without insurance, the flu shot often costs between $10 and $30.
“The flu virus lives on surfaces for a couple of hours,” said Baas. “If you are in a classroom desk in which the student before you coughed into their hands and then touched the desk, if you touch the desk surface and then touch your nose or mouth without washing your hands, you will be at risk for developing flu symptoms.”
This example shows just how easy it is to come in contact with the flu. Fortunately, there are several basic practices that can reduce the spread of this virus. These are listed on the Student Health Center’s new website, accessible through Door-to-Dordt under the Dordt info page.
Baas stressed the importance of students with the flu self-isolating until they are 24 hours fever-free. When students do not self-isolate, they will be sick for longer and will expose the rest of campus to the virus.
“When you get sick, you should come to the health center so we can talk you through how to take care of yourself,” said Baas. “We can also provide you with a thermometer and Tylenol.”
The Student Health Center will also keep in touch with sick patients, monitoring their recovery and contacting their professors to validate their absence from class.
To prepare for the flu, the Student Health Center recommends having a few supplies on hand. These are a thermometer, Tylenol, 20 ounce water bottle, instant soup, non-caffeinated drinks such as Gatorade and decaffeinated tea, and a buddy that will take your ID to the commons and get you a to-go box of food.
The walk-in clinic at the Student Health Center is open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday through Friday (closed during chapel). Appointments can be made from 12:30 to 3 p.m. for students not wanting to wait in line. The Student Health and Counseling Center is located next to the Grille in the Campus Center.