NMU walk-in clinic highlights need for flu shots on campus

Flu+shot

FLU VACCINE – Flu season is going to be difficult this year. Get your flu shot early and beat the flu later. Sam Rush/NW

Jesse Wiederhold

Students this year have the choice to get a flu shot which may give them an upper hand this flu season. Getting a flu shot could help someone prevent getting the flu in addition to COVID-19 at the same time. At the least, a flu shot would likely reduce the severity of influenza if infected.

“By exposing our immune system to the vaccine, which is developed yearly to account for variations of the seasonal flu, we hope to ramp up or prepare our bodies to respond in a strong fashion if it encounters the actual flu virus,” said Dr. Christopher Kirkpatrick, NMU Health Director. He also explained that most people do “incredibly well” with the immunization and the few days following. They always rule out during screening “those whom the immunization may not be safe for,” said Kirkpatrick.

With symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu appearing quite similar, it may become hard to distinguish between the two. To be on the safe side, the NMU Health Center will be testing patients for both flu and COVID-19 when they seek help for symptoms of either. In fact, it is actually possible to contract both illnesses at once. “Co-infection with multiple illnesses, viral or bacterial, is possible,” said Kirkpatrick. He explained that it would be more likely to have just one root cause of illness though.

The Health Center has two remaining walk-in flu clinics coming up for students, faculty and staff to get their flu shots. These two remaining clinics will be on Oct. 27, and Nov. 10. Both clinics run from noon to 4 p.m. and are held in the Northern Center Ballrooms located above the bookstore.

“Most insurance covers 100% cost,” said Kirkpatrick. “There is no requirement to pay at the time of service.” Also, students can choose to add the shot cost to their NMU e-bill if they receive it at the flu clinic on campus.

The flu clinics make it very easy to get a flu shot. However, if someone can’t attend during these hours, they might want to seek immunization elsewhere. “I and the medical community at large, are strongly recommending flu shots this year,” Kirkpatrick said. “Each year, we have offered the flu clinics in partnership with the School of Nursing students and instructors. We are pleased to have this continue this year.”

The Centers for Disease Control estimated last year that the flu was responsible for 410,000 hospitalizations. Increasing vaccination numbers would likely reduce hospitalization numbers resulting from flu complications, according to the CDC’s flu information page. That being said; getting a flu shot could prevent admissions to already busy hospitals due to COVID-19. Step one to not contracting the flu is getting a flu shot.

As a final reminder from the CDC: “avoid close contact with people who are sick” and “if you are sick, limit contact with others.” They also recommend “[covering] your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze,” and “wash your hands often with soap and water.”