It’s not COVID-19, but this respiratory disease is also making its way through the Rowan University student body: it’s the influenza virus.
Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious disease that can be spread through respiratory droplets from distances up to six feet.
Within the last two weeks, over 80 Rowan University students have tested positive for the flu, according to the Rowan University Wellness Center, raising concern about the upcoming flu season.
Over the last few years, the flu has been kept at bay by COVID-19 personal protection measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing. However, as COVID-19 cases decrease and life moves back to normal, the flu is making a comeback.
Flu season ranges from December to February, as people are forced indoors because of the weather. However, Rowan University has experienced a surge within the last two weeks, stoking fears about an increasingly damaging flu season.
Symptoms of the flu can range from mild to severe and can last for up to five days before lessening. These symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, body aches, fatigue, cough, and headaches.
Since these symptoms are similar to COVID-19 symptoms, it is often difficult to tell the sicknesses apart.
Rowan University Associate Professor and practicing physician Dr. Jen Caudle explained the best practices during flu season in a video released to Rowan University students on Nov. 11.
“If you have symptoms, you need to talk to your healthcare provider and consider getting tested for COVID-19 in addition to flu,” Dr. Caudle said. “Flu symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms can really overlap.”
Rowan University currently lists four safeguards to stop the spread, which is to wear masks in all group settings, avoid maskless indoor gatherings, increase personal hygiene measures such as hand-washing, and immediately report symptoms to medical personnel.
In preparation for the upcoming flu season, Rowan University will be giving free flu vaccines in Room 127 of the Chamberlain Student Center on Wednesday, Nov. 17 from 1-3 p.m. as well as on Thursday, Nov. 18 from 2-4 p.m. These free vaccinations will also be held on Monday, Nov. 22 between 2-4 p.m. in the Owl’s Nest in the Student Center.
Similarly, many local pharmacies are offering flu vaccines at low cost (or for free, depending on insurance). The Walgreens located by the Holly Pointe student dormitories offers flu vaccinations, as does the CVS located on Mullica Hill Road. Students can make vaccination appointments through the CVS or Walgreens websites.
As the height of flu season draws nearer, students are urged to continue being cautious about the flu and report symptoms to the Wellness Center at (856) 256-4333 or the Inspira Urgent Care at (856) 582-1500.
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