Students returned to Geneseo last week, many bringing the flu along with them. The team at the Lauderdale Center for Student Health & Counseling has begun preparing for this season since this summer. Nurse manager Deb Penoyer explained that flu shots are ordered over the summer and distributed for free in September and October.
“So oftentimes, it’s similar each year but it depends on the severity of whether the flu is widespread in our area,” she said. “We generally have an idea of how many flu shots we’re going to order in the summer.”
According to Penoyer, approximately 900 flu shots were distributed. Of the 900, faculty and staff represented a small percentage. While shots are no charge for students, faculty and staff have to pay a small fee to receive the vaccination.
“We are funded by monies that come from the health fee,” she said. “All students, regardless of whether they’re going to get the flu shot, pay into that health fee so that we do have the funds to be able to provide things like that.” The mandatory health fee covers other medical necessities, both related and unrelated to the flu.
“And that goes for anything that you can obtain here at the health center; whether it’s an appointment with one of our physicians or medication when you may need it,” Penoyer said. “We do try to make it as easy as possible so students aren’t scrambling around.”
The flu preparedness doesn’t end there. Lauderdale still has vaccines on hand for students who missed the clinics earlier last semester, something important to consider seeing as the flu is more easily spread on college campuses than other places.
“It’s almost like a ripe environment because of the close contact with living quarters,” Penoyer said. “If [students] aren’t necessarily aware that they’re going to pass [the flu] along by not washing their hands or they’re not covering their cough––things like that. Just like you would share an illness with family members if you were home, it’s the same idea.”
If you do catch the flu this season, self-isolation is key according to Penoyer. Because of this, Lauderdale offers a self-care center where a friend is able to pick up over the counter medication for you so that you don’t need to be on campus while you’re sick.
“You can come here, but the big thing is to self-isolate because if you come in contact with others, they’re probably going to pick it up,” she said. “So make sure that you wash your hands frequently and avoid going out. If you have a fever, make sure you stay home.”