The flu and common cold have been spreading rapidly on campus in the past couple of weeks, disrupting an academically busy time of the year. Caroline Coates, a physician's assistant at the Earle Health Center, answered some questions from The Paladin regarding this upsurge in sicknesses.
The Health Center on campus does not actively track the total number of flu cases, but for the past several weeks, there has been a large number of positive Influenza A cases seen in the Health Center and over the wider upstate and southeast region.
Coates noted that the Health Center has not had the chance to quantify the exact number of flu vaccines distributed yet, but she stated the flu vaccine clinics in Oct. brought in a large number of students. The flu shots will be distributed continuously throughout the flu season, which runs into the Spring, and should protect against both flu A and B strains. Students can schedule a nurse visit through the MyChart website or call 864-522-2000 to receive the shot at the Health Center.
Coates noted that the flu shot seems to be more effective this year than in the past several years. Additionally, the Health Center notes that most students who have received the shot seem to be recovering faster as well. The vaccine, like most other vaccines, takes roughly two weeks to become active within the body, so Coates recommended getting the vaccine as soon as possible for the best protection.
Furthermore, Coates mentioned a manufacturer backorder on Tamiflu in the past several weeks as well as a new once-a-day dosage flu drug called Xofluza. The manufacturer shortage limits access for sick students. However, in relation to flu medication shortages, Coates said “Though an antiviral medication can be helpful in recovering slightly faster, [...] most students are recovering and feeling much better within 3-5 days of symptom onset without it. The main thing is to push fluids, rest, and take Tylenol or ibuprofen as needed for headache and fever.” She also added that the Health Center has plain Mucinex for sale if students cannot go off campus.
The Health Center recommends not attending class if you have a fever; a flu notification can be submitted to professors through Starfish for students that are ill and need rest. Coates also suggests possibly masking around others until fever and other symptoms subside. The Health Center provides rapid flu, strep, and COVID tests by appointment.