There have been more cases of the flu than average this fall, a season that typically experiences a natural spike.
by angus yip
| 10/11/22 5:15 am
Dartmouth College Health Service has provided flu shots to approximately 2,000 community members this fall at Dick’s House, as well as through pop-up clinics at the Class of 1953 Commons, according to Dick’s House Campus Outreach Nurse Jedidiah Peterson.
Geisel School of Medicine professor Justin Kim said there has been an “early spike” in flu cases this year at the university. According to Peterson, Dick’s House typically expects a spike in flu cases in late fall, but added that the number of cases this year has been “more than average.”
“Just when the cold weather hits, people move indoors and on campus it’s more complicated because we bring people from different places,” Peterson said.
Peterson noted that this fall, Dick’s House delivered the majority of the more than 2,000 flu shots at scheduled clinics announced through campus list servers and Medi-Quick pop-up clinics every Tuesday at ’53 Commons throughout the year. period. The Medi-Quick program was first created in 2017 and allows the College Health Service to offer various health services to members of the community at different locations on campus.
Peterson said nearly 400 doses have been delivered through the pop-up clinics, adding that the program is “especially popular” with graduate students.
Kim said people should get vaccinated annually because previous flu shots can become “out of date” as the flu virus mutates over time.
“Influenza viruses mutate in two ways: Some mutate in small ways every year, so we need a new vaccine every year,” he said. “Every once in a while, we have a major change in mutations, resulting in more severe strains like pandemic H1N1. [from 2009 to 2010].”
Kim noted that flu shots are created using data from the previous flu season to predict what next year’s flu season will be like. She added that the flu shot each year contains five to 10 strains of the virus from the previous year, and always includes the H1N1 strain “to protect people from that very severe variant of the flu.”
He added that while people can still get the flu after getting vaccinated, the vaccine helps reduce the severity of symptoms.
Preston Lim ’25 said he got his flu shot at Dick’s House in late October, which he described as a “really seamless” process.
“I walked into Dick’s House without an appointment and I just had to go to the pharmacy and fill out a short form,” Lim said. “The whole process took 10 minutes.”
He noted that while he was aware of the pop-up clinics at ’53 Commons, he was unable to attend any of them due to scheduling conflicts and “definitely would have received [his] shot earlier” if there had been more pop-up clinics.
Peterson said that while the pop-up clinics at ’53 Commons will not continue through the winter, community members can still get walk-in flu shots at Dick’s House Pharmacy or contact him to set up a flu shot clinic. the flu.
“We’re never going to turn off the switch,” Peterson said. “We try to keep [flu shots] as widely available as possible.”
Peterson noted that there are also “a lot of resources” in the community for people to get flu shots through local pharmacy chains, primary care offices and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, which have programs to distribute vaccines. .
Kim said people can use many of the same strategies used to protect themselves from COVID-19 for the flu, such as not attending large gatherings when sick and wearing masks when there are large crowds.
Peterson added that after the COVID-19 pandemic, people are now more used to mitigation strategies like using hand sanitizer and wearing masks in public.
“It would have been more socially challenging to wear a mask in 2018 or 2019, but it doesn’t stand out much now, which could be a silver lining to everything that’s happened,” he said.
Peterson emphasized the difficulty of balancing healthy habits during flu season with the academic and social pressures students often face.
“If your only concern in life was avoiding the flu, it would be easy,” he said. “The trick is for our students to try to balance this with academic and social priorities. Adequate rest, healthy eating and good hydration benefit all three.”