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OhioHealth Campus Care is putting on a flu vaccine clinic on October 20, 2022 in Baker Center 235, from 3 to 5 p.m.

OU health officials predict aggressive upcoming flu season

Ohio University health officials are preparing for an aggressive flu season while still managing COVID-19 cases.

The university is working to keep students, faculty and staff healthy by encouraging everyone to receive flu shots and COVID-19 booster shots.

According to a university news release, there are many benefits to receiving vaccinations, including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and the risk of flu-related deaths among children.

Jennifer Gwilym, interim chair for the department of primary care and clinical assistant to the dean, said she noticed that many students and faculty members are getting their flu vaccines because they are scheduling appointments to get their COVID-19 booster shots. 

“I am finding that a lot of my students and even a lot of the faculty members are actually getting vaccinated this year because they're getting their COVID-19 booster and getting their flu shot at the same time,” said Gwilym. 

Gillian Ice, special assistant to the president for public health operations, said the last two years people were fortunate to have preventable measures, like the mask mandate, which slowed the increase of COVID-19 as well as other illnesses. 

However, with OU’s mask mandate and social distancing lifted, Ice suspects there will be an increase in the number of flu cases.

Ice said looking at Australia’s flu numbers can predict whether there will be a surge in cases in the U.S., and the flu season in Australia was particularly bad this year. 

“Unfortunately, I think we'll be hit with flu, COVID-19, and then also, there's some other respiratory diseases that are circulating now,” Ice said.

Ice and other university health officials are utilizing tools at their disposal to detect the flu and determine how to best manage it. Once they know how aggressive the flu will be, they intend to amplify the message on campus. 

“We'll be using all the tools that we have at our disposal to try to encourage people to be safe and take care of themselves,” Ice said. 

Gwilym said she still highly encourages handwashing, masking in close quarters, being conscientious of wearing a mask, staying informed and at home if you’re sick. 

“One of the things I think that's been really positive about the COVID pandemic is it's really created a culture of staying home when you’re sick,” Ice said. 

Ice said OU faculty and staff members are aware of the impending flu season and expect students will get sick. They are willing to work with students who are experiencing flu-like symptoms and have to miss class. 

“We have a COVID abscess policy and enforce that is continuing, but it's based on COVID-19-like symptoms, which covers flu as well,” Ice said. “Students should feel assured that if they're sick, they should stay home and protect others and that they that faculty will work with them to make up their time.”

For many students, it can be stressful to miss extended lectures due to being ill. But, the university is trying to express its understanding that it is more important to get well before worrying about school. 

“It's OK to take time off and feel better,” Gwilym said. “I think that that's also probably helping with mental health issues. If we're saying to people, ‘You know what, if you're feeling drained and exhausted, please take the time off,' I think we're improving health outcomes that way as well.”

Primary Care Physician and Medical Director Krista Duval said the overall motivator people should have for getting their flu vaccines is the idea of keeping themselves and others healthy.

“Campus Care, like other medical facilities, does not offer incentives for vaccinations,” Duval wrote in an email. “The incentive is for the person to receive protection against the infection.”

The university will offer flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster vaccination clinics on Monday, Oct. 17, and Friday, Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Heritage Community Clinic on West Green. There is also a clinic scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 20, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Baker University Center, room 235. The cost of the vaccines will be billed to students’ health insurance. 

Students can also schedule a free flu shot through CVS Pharmacy located at 32 S. Court St. and 555 E. State St. in Athens.  


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