by Bridgette Gardiner

With flu outbreaks starting earlier each year, Simpson College is doing everything they can to help students prepare for the flu with everything from vaccines on-campus to general awareness.

Last year Iowa reported 2.3% of Iowans had the flu. However, not all doctors test for influenza with flu-like symptoms, also not many people with influenza like symptoms see their primary care physicians, so the number could be higher. As of now, there have been no reported cases of the flu here in Iowa. However, the peak of flu season is between January and February, but some cases have been reported from October until May.

            Director of Health Services Rita Audlehelm is trying to educate students on ways to both prevent getting the flu and dealing with the flu if you do contract it.

            “Everyone thinks there is a magic bullet on it and there isn’t,” Audlehelm said. “Washing your hands is a huge prevention.”

            Other ways students can help prevent getting sick this season is by taking good general care of themselves. This includes eating well, getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids.

            “I know that sounds kind of old hat and don’t you have anything better than that, but that’s what really works,” Audlehelm said.

            Students on-campus are already beginning to prepare for the possibility of a rigorous flu season. Freshman Erin Bryan is practicing ways of prevention.

            “Anytime you go anywhere wash your hands,” Bryan said. “Coming back from class especially and hand sanitizer, it works.”

            Another way Health Services is trying to help students is by providing flu shots to all students for $18. Students can get the flu vaccine on Oct. 9 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in Pioneer Hall or on Oct. 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. right when you enter Pfeiffer Dining Hall.

            “I do think the flu shot is important,” Jodene DeVault, public health administrator, said. “I think the more people we can protect before the flu season is in full swing the better.”

            In addition to the flu shot, Health Services will also have available, for every student who would like one, packets containing symptoms for both the cold and the flu, along with disposable thermometers.

            Generally with the flu students can expect to have a high fever, usually well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and a general achy feeling. Students are encouraged to stay in bed and recover before rejoining the Simpson community in order to help eliminate the ability for the virus to spread.

            “What causes it to spread is when people go to class or work when they are ill,” Audlehelm said. “Monitor your symptoms and good old hand washing is the best.”

            In the event that students feel they are too ill for class, Health Services will not be providing students with documentation excusing them from class. Audlehelm encourages students to reach out to their teachers and explain their individual situation.

            Audlehelm also encourages students with pre-existing medical conditions, including but not limited to asthma and diabetes, to take extra precautions when sick and if they feel they are getting worse to seek attention from a medical physician.

            “Students just need to be well aware of how they are feeling,” Audlehelm said.