Brace yourselves: flu season is approaching

GV offers walk-in flu clinics for those looking to avoid sickness this fall

By Ryan Jarvi | 9/8/13 6:18pm

It’s getting near that time of the year again when students come to class sneezing, coughing and wheezing—or don’t come to class at all because they’re too sick to get out of bed.

“If you’ve ever had the flu, you won’t ever want it again, that’s for sure,” said Mary Jo Miedema, a
registered nurse at Grand Valley State University’s Family Health Center.

The flu can lead to time out of work and away from school, but it can also be costly in extra medical
bills associated with other possible complications.

“Lots of times, it’s not just the flu itself, but it can lead to pneumonia,” Miedema said.

GVSU’s Family Health Center will be offering flu clinics in multiple locations at various times in an
attempt to deter the virus from spreading.

“Historically we look and it’s very hard to predict,” Miedema said of the severity of the flu season. “But
you never know what’s going to happen.”

Miedema said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months
and older be vaccinated once per year.

“Last year, I believe we saw influenza A in the early season—in November, December—but then we had
another round in February and March, which was most likely influenza B,” Miedema said.

Though influenza A and B are different strains, they have relatively the same symptoms and both are
covered under the vaccine the center will be administering.

“The influenza that we’re vaccinating against is more of a respiratory influenza,” Miedema said. “It
strikes very quickly.”

Typical symptoms include severe body aches, high fever, cough, chills and headaches.

“It’s a sudden onset and sadly a long duration,” Miedema said. “It can be several days of feeling that
bad, (and) if you’re not protected or treated, it can turn into pneumonia and other complications.”

Many places offer flu vaccinations in October and November, but the last few years the center at GVSU
has been starting earlier than that.

“It has varied over the years, it just depends on vaccine availability, but the last few years we’ve
started in September,” she said. “We purchase a certain number, and it is first come first serve, but in
recent years we haven’t run out. What we’re hoping to do is vaccinate before we see flu.”

The vaccine is inactivated and not a live virus, so it won’t actually get people sick, Miedema said. Some
people who get vaccinated may feel fatigued, but the majority of the time no symptoms are seen.

“The sooner we can vaccinate, the sooner we can be protected,” she said.

The center is offering a number of walk-in flu clinics at different times in multiple locations.

“If you’re in a community, in classes and dorms, there’s that chance of spreading the flu to each
other,” said Cindy Kruizenga, office coordinator at the center. “If none of those times work for any
students, faculty or staff, they can call us at the health center and schedule a time to come in.”

Any GVSU faculty, staff, retirees, students and other community members are welcome.

“There’s a $25 fee for students, which they can put on their student account,” Kruizenga said.

GVSU students can also pay the fee by cash or check, with payment by credit or debit cards only
available at the GVSU Family Health Center location. Students who want to put the charge on their
account must present their student ID card.

The first flu clinic will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 11 at GVSU’s Family Health Center, 72
Sheldon Blvd SE, Grand Rapids. For a complete list of clinic locations and times, vist

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