How FAMU fights the flu

Poster on the wall of FAMU student services visible upon the main entrance of the building.  

By | Tajae Jones  

“It’s not the flu, I just have a cold.” That’s usually how the misconception starts. At least this was the case for Regia Windom, a graduating senior at FAMU who recently discovered she had the flu.  

“I was really tired before I realized I had the flu, but I just thought I had a really, really bad cold or something,” said Windom.  

We are in the midst of a typically busy flu season. According to the website of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. However, a special test can be used to decipher between the two.  

Fatigue, cough, sore throat, fever, runny nose, and headache are some generic symptoms seen in both.  

“First my throat was sore, then my throat hurting turned into my throat hurting along with cold in my system. So I went to the doctor,” said Windom.  

Windom visited the CVS minute clinic on West Tennessee Street. She was treated for the flu.  

“They gave me Tamiflu which is the medication they give you when you have the flu or when you get the flu shot and you’re trying to prepare yourself. I took that for five days,” said Windom.  

Due to the flu she had to miss school and could not have physical interaction with others.  

“I was out from school from Wednesday to this Monday. During that timeframe you are not supposed to interact with people or be around them just because the flu is still in your system and you don’t want to give it to them,” said Windom.  

Windom said she chose not to go to FAMU’s clinic because it is less convenient than CVS’s minute clinic.   

“I usually do not go to FAMU’s clinic because I feel like the wait is so long and I feel like they kind of charge you more for certain medications and stuff when I can just go to CVS and my insurance covers it,” said Windom.  

Tanya Tatum, FAMU Student Health Services director of 10 years, said students usually steer clear of the clinic because they don’t like shots or have misconceptions about the flu.  

“I think a lot of our students think of the flu as just a cold and it’s really not, people actually die from the flu and I don’t think people recognize the severity of it,” she said. “We’ve offered free flu shots to students and staff every year since I’ve been here. Unfortunately, many people in our community do not take advantage of it.”   

Despite the health service’s attempts, some students still do not feel the shot is necessary.  

“I don’t believe in getting the flu shot. That’s like one of the only vaccinations I don’t get because I know that it makes you sick and I don’t want to go through that and I rarely ever get sick so I was surprised I got the flu,” said Windom.  

The clinic usually conducts a flu campaign early in the fall and encourages students to get their shots in October. Clinic representatives also go to various places on campus to administer the shots.  

“We mention it during orientation, mention it to their parents, mention it in the individual student sessions, send stuff out on out social media, and FAMU info. The information gets out there and a lot of people still say, ‘I don’t like flu shots I don’t, ever get the flu so I’m never taking a shot.’ There seems to be a big reluctance to get flu shots here,” said Tatum.  

The CDC says the flu is most common during fall and winter and typically rises in October. It will peak between December and February. It also recommended all persons age 6 months and older receive an age-appropriate vaccination.  

Student health services also recommends the shot as the best way to prevent the flu.  

“They’re not 100 percent but the flu vaccine is formulated every year to try to address the flu strains they think will be the most common that year. Sometimes it’s a good mix, sometimes it’s not as good but even if its not perfect, if you’ve had your flu shot and you still get the flu, its likely to be less severe. So, there is always a benefit to getting a flu shot,” said Tatum.  

According to Tatum if you are already sick, the flu shot will not do you any good but it is advised that you still seek additional medical help to prevent worsening conditions.  

“It’s not too late to get the flu shot. It would certainly be to student’s advantage to get their flu shots,” said Tatum. 

For more resources see: 

Center for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov  

FAMU student health center 850-599-3777 

Leon County Health Department 850-606-8000 

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