What MSU Student Health Services wants you to know during the cold and flu season
The arrival of shorter days, longer nights and cool temperatures at MSU is typically indicative of the start of the autumn months, but it's also the signal of another season — the cold and flu season.
The cold weather elicits change not only in our individual routines, but in our everyday health, as well. Germs, bacteria and viruses thrive during this time of year, as the immune systems of humans are weakened and become more susceptible to their harmful effects. As a result, a large public community like MSU could see the effects of a cold and flu wave on campus.
Kathi Braunlich, the marketing and communications director for MSU’s Student Health Services, talked about how her organization is taking steps to ensure the health of students and staff this season.
“We’re taking a couple of different approaches,” Braunlich said.
One of those ways, Braunlich described, is to increase access to the influenza shot, or flu shot.
“With any visits to any of the clinics, if someone is there and they’re not ill, but they’re there for some other reason, we’re offering the opportunity to get the flu shot,” Braunlich said.
“For students that have insurance, generally insurance will cover the cost of the flu shot without any co-payment, and we were able to get a grant to cover the cost of flu shots for people who did not have insurance. So we’ve made sure that there isn’t a financial roadblock to their getting a flu shot,” Braunlich added.
Braunlich referred to five health clinics that are spread around MSU's campus as places that students and others can visit should they fall ill. Each MSU neighborhood contains one, with each offering such treatment for illness and minor injuries. Students seeking treatment are invited to pay a visit to one of the centers, listed below.
North Neighborhood – Olin Health Center
Brody Neighborhood – in Brody Hall
South Neighborhood – in Holden Hall
East Neighborhood – in Hubbard Hall
Rivertrail Neighborhood – in McDonel Hall
Braunlich also talked of other ways her department is trying to increase student health awareness.
“We have been coordinating with RHA for the last several years to put together cold and flu comfort packs. We will have over 20,000 of those distributed on campus this year, starting in the fall, and it is a reminder for people to take precautions to keep from getting the cold or flu.”
The packs, Braunlich said, include information for students on how to protect themselves. They also contain items to make students feel better.
“You know, tea, Kleenex, etc., if they do get a cold,” Braunlich said.
Students and staff may take preventative measures against such illnesses by following standard sanitary guidelines. Braunlich offered two pieces of advice on how to decrease the spread of illness-causing germs.
“I would say the top two things to do are one, get a flu shot, and get a flu shot now, because you want to get it before the flu season begins,” she said. “It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to become fully functioning, so to speak, in your body. The larger percentage of the population that have the flu shot, the best it protects the whole population against getting the flu.”
The second tip pertains to everyday cleanliness — such as people washing their hands or using hand sanitizer after they’ve touched their nose, mouth or hair.
“I think this is something that I think a lot of people forget,” Braunlich said.