Seasonal flu 101: staying healthy at FDU
Nurse Carol Brown Taylor (left) and administrative assistant Elizabeth Drywa man the flu shot table at the Thrive 365 Wellness Fair held on the Metropolitan Campus in October 2012.
As students return to Fairleigh Dickinson University from winter break, this season’s seasonal flu continues to fell people across the country.
The Wellness Center at the College at Florham and Student Health Services – Metropolitan Campus (SHSMetro) are taking steps to help prevent on-campus outbreaks of the virus.
SHSMetro will hold a flu clinic starting at 11 a.m. on Feb. 6 at Student Health Services in the Student Union Building.
The team held a successful flu shot clinic in October, vaccinating 700 people at the Metropolitan Campus, says Ann Mahan, nurse practitioner and director of SHSMetro. 120 people were inoculated at the College at Florham’s clinic in October.
The best defense against the seasonal flu is getting that flu shot. “A flu shot will lessen the flu if you get it,” Mahan says.
For those unlucky enough to succumb, taking an anti-viral within 48-72 hours of the start of symptoms can reduce the nastiness of the virus.
“Tamiflu and other anti-virals help decrease viral loads and are most effective early in the onset of illness,” says Mahan.
At the Wellness Center, Shirley Smith, director of Student Health Services/nurse practitioner called ahead to ensure that Madison Pharmacy has Tamiflu in stock. “The store delivers free of charge,” she says, so Florham students who are too sick to pick up a prescription can still get medicine easily.
Nurses at the SHSMetro also distribute homeopathic medications, Coldcalm and Oscillococcinum, which help minimize the severity of cold and flu symptoms, to patients. “The probiotic mixture helps strengthen the immune system,” says Mahan.
At both campuses, resident advisors will reiterate good hand hygiene practices. They’ll also be posting flu awareness posters throughout the campuses. The RA booth in the Student Center at Florham will be stocked with Purell, gloves and tissues for students to pick up. Smith will also offer educational activities on flu facts/prevention in the dining hall. Nurses at SHSMetro have prepared cold and flu “goodie bags,” including thermometers, soup, Tylenol, saline solution, Saltines, tea and hand sanitizer, to give out.
Gourmet Dining boxes up to-go meals for students who are too ill to make it to the dining hall. These meals, offered on both campuses, include extra liquids, says Smith.
Increasing fluid intake is a key to battling the flu. “Treat the symptoms. Drink fluids. Ensure room ventilation,” says Smith.
Both Mahan and Smith urge students to stay home if they are ill, in an effort to help prevent the spread of illness at the University. “Email your professors,” says Mahan. Florham nurses will make “house calls” to the residence halls if students are too sick to make it to the Wellness Center for an appointment. Students can also hitch a ride with Public Safety officers to get to the center if necessary.
“When you have the flu, you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck. Fever and body aches will last two to four days, typically,” says Mahan.
Mahan also urges members of the FDU community to steel themselves against the fly by reading the Seasonal Flu guidelines and resources set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wellness Center staff at the College at Florham includes (from left) Susan Morrissey, administrative assistant; Heidi Smith, staff nurse; Shirley Smith, director of student health services; Susan Boisnier, staff nurse; and Wendy Fasano, staff nurse.