As the winter season rapidly approaches and COVID-19 protocols lessen, health officials have become concerned about another respiratory illness making its rounds through the Rowan University student body.
The Influenza Virus, commonly known as the flu, is a disease that can be spread by respiratory droplets from distances up to six feet. This disease is contagious and can cause serious illness in immunocompromised persons, such as the young or elderly. After an individual contracts the flu, they can spread the disease before symptoms even occur.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), common flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, tiredness and headaches. Since flu and COVID-19 symptoms are similar, students who begin displaying these symptoms are urged to get tested.
Last year, the flu was kept at bay by COVID-19 protection measures, such as social distancing and wearing a mask. However, healthcare officials have grown worried that the upcoming season could be worse than previous seasons, due to waning natural immunity.
“While flu activity was historically low during the 2020-2021 flu season, we could see flu activity surge this season, with relaxed COVID-19 mitigation strategies, increased travel, and the reopening of schools and businesses,” William Schaffner, director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), said in an October press release.
Schaffner urged Americans to get vaccinated against the flu, stating, “The best way to protect yourself against flu is to get an annual flu vaccine. Even in cases when flu vaccination does not completely prevent infection, it can reduce the duration and severity of illness and can help prevent serious complications, including hospitalization and death.”
As a response to influenza concerns, Rowan University’s Wellness Center is working in tandem with the Gloucester County Health Department to urge students to get the flu vaccine. Together, these health organizations have begun providing free flu shots to students and local community members.
According to a university-wide announcement, Rowan students, staff and faculty will be able to receive the vaccine every Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Owl’s Nest in the Chamberlain Student Center. This initiative will last until Thanksgiving. Students do not need to make an appointment to get their vaccine, as walk-ins are welcome.
Non-students can receive their vaccines through the Gloucester Department of Health and Human Services, which provides vaccines throughout the county.
The vaccine will be given at multiple health-related locations including urgent cares, pharmacies and primary care offices.
Individuals who wish to get vaccinated should wear clothing that allows easy access to their arms to ensure that health officials can give the vaccine as efficiently as possible.
As flu season continues, students are urged to call the Wellness Center at (856) 256-4333 if they begin to display any symptoms of illness.
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