Flu Season Has Fallen Upon Campus: The Health Center Responds

Villanovas student health center.

Villanova’s student health center.

Arden West, Co-News Editor

It’s that time of year again. The temperatures are getting colder, Starbucks has released its seasonal drinks and the ever-present cough has started to sound a little louder. Just as naturally as the holidays roll around has come the flu, and this year, it came stronger than ever.


In fact, the Washington Post reported last week that so far, the flu season of 2022 is more severe than it has been in the last 13 years. While it usually takes place between the months of October and May with peaks in December and January, flu season arrived around six weeks earlier this year. 


The Health Center at the University has felt this intense surge, and it has weighed heavily on the staff even though they are very prepared for large influxes like flu season. Dr. Mary McGonigle, the Director of our Student Health Center, reported that normally her staff of around 30 people sees about 100 students per day. However, the COVID-19 pandemic heightened these numbers of students, and the flu has also caused a spike in appointments. 


A freshman student who recently came down with the flu recounted how he was transported to the hospital because of how sick he became. McGonigle explained that a major difference between the health center on campus and a doctor’s office is size, and that our health center operates similarly to a family practice facility. However, the University has an overnight infirmary that students have  visited because of their flu-positive results. 


On campus, the flu has traveled through teams, clubs and classes alike. For example, the women’s water polo team has temporarily lost a handful of players due to the flu. One player, Colette Jones, explained how horrible her experience being sick was.


“I can’t remember the last time that I’ve felt so sick, and it came completely out of nowhere,” Jones said. “One minute I was working on a project and the next I literally could not get out of bed. I was so disappointed to have to miss classes and practices and to make up all of that work. I was out for basically the week.”


Numerous other students agreed with Jones and reported that the sickness forced them to put their lives on hold. While Jones mentioned how she usually gets her flu shot, distance from home kept her from the vaccination over fall break. She was planning on making an appointment the following week, but by then, she had already come down with the flu. 


Vaccinations, although controversial in today’s socio-political climate, are the CDC’s strongest recommendation to protect against the virus. Receiving the vaccine helps to prevent the spread, and students who tested positive for the flu but got their flu shot reported very minimal symptoms. The Health Center also mentioned that those who get their flu shot often recover much sooner than those without the vaccine.


The Villanova Band has also experienced the rampant spread of the flu. 


“About half of my friends in band came down with the flu in the same week, especially because we are together all the time between practices and simply hanging out,” Band member Eva Grzech said. “Lots of people had to skip practice.”


Experts have said that influenza has not been this serious of an issue over the last two years because of all of the COVID-19 precautions people were taking, such as masking and social distancing.


However, in 2022, with more people disregarding these precautions than continuing them, the spread is consistent all across the country. Chloe Lockwood, a student at the University of Florida, said that “last week, there were at least a third of the people in each of my classes missing. Events this weekend have even been canceled to prevent people from getting sick.” 


Villanova’s Health Center advises students who test positive to stay home and rest up, keep their distance, monitor their temperature, treat symptoms with Tylenol for aches and stay hydrated. To bring a fever down, it is advised to alternate the use of ibuprofen and Tylenol and to visit the health center for a follow-up appointment if there is no improvement. 


While flu season is not fun, know that the University’s Health Center—and apparently hundreds of thousands of fellow Americans—are there for support. Stay healthy, Villanova.