Student Voice


September 22, 2023


Mostly Cloudy

SHS provides kits to eliminate flu, cold symptoms

March 8, 2007

Fall brings cooler temperatures, colorful foliage and bonfires. However, it can also bring with it body aches, sniffles and sinus pressure.

Cold and flu season strikes every year as the seasons change and temperatures begin to drop.

To make this time of year a little less painful for students, Student Health Services is offering cold and flu kits.

In late 2004, health officials on campus took notice when Chiron Corp. announced that due to problems encountered in its British plant, it would no longer be able to supply millions of doses of flu vaccines to the United States.

According to an Oct. 6, 2004, press release, a spokesman said Chiron, which was expected to provide nearly half of the U.S. supply, could not release the produced vaccines because of problems with the sterility of the manufacturing process.

Student Health Services staff, aware of the implications of an impending shortage, decided as a group to take action and started a project that is still in existence today: offering cold and flu kits to students.

The kits contain items that are considered helpful for symptoms of colds or the flu: cough drops, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, facial tissue, antibacterial hand wipes, disposable thermometers and information.

In the kits, students can find a plethora of helpful tips, from suggestions for home treatments to lists of symptoms, indicating a need to seek certified medical attention. Also included is a comprehensive list of preventative behaviors; for example, coughing into one’s sleeve instead of hand to prevent the spread of germs.

Alice Reilly-Myklebust, director of Student Health Services, said the kits weren’t necessarily started with long-term intentions, but have caught on with UWRF students.

“We made the kits as a response to [the vaccine shortage], but they became such a popular item that we kept them going,” Reilly-Myklebust said. “Now it’s hard to keep up with demand.”

Tara Sowle contracted whooping cough last semester, but wasn’t diagnosed until she’d had it for a significant period of time. Before being prescribed antibiotics, she said she used cough drops from the cold and flu kits.

“I think they were in the basement of the library on a table, maybe down by Student Services,” Sowle said. “I saw they had cough drops, so I got my fair share of them.”
In order to meet students’ needs, Student Health Services tries to keep kits available in a variety of ways.

While the kits aren’t necessarily advertised, Student Health Services does its best to keep at least a few in places, like the Student Health Services office. If requested, other areas, such as residence halls, can get some to display at the front desks.

Reilly-Myklebust said keeping them available to be picked up on demand as well as bringing them to student health-related events has kept the use of the kits going up gradually.

“We’re getting better about distributing them, bringing them to events,” Reilly-Myklebust said. “Like, I try to bring a few to the immunization clinic every month.”

In response to the suggestion around campus that this winter has been more harsh than previous winters in terms of students and faculty getting sick, Reilly-Myklebust said it’s hard to measure which buildings have been the “sickest,” since Student Health Services doesn’t keep track of where students spend most of their time. 

“It’s hard to measure, since it’s not like [Student Health Services] asks [the students they treat] their major. There are always colds going around, always upper-respiratory things going around,” Reilly-Myklebust said.

Reilly-Myklebust also said the clinic always sees more students getting sick around times of high stress, such as midterms.

It was rumored that Kleinpell Fine Arts had the largest amount of students contracting sicknesses, but as to whether or not there is a certain building to blame, students and faculty give mixed responses.

Theresa Kurtz, who has a Women’s Studies class in KFA, said the volume of students going through the building on a daily basis could be at fault.

“Since there’s wide range of studies, there’s the most traffic going in and out,” Kurtz said.

Faculty member Kristine Butler has an office in KFA and said in an e-mail interview that it wouldn’t surprise her if the building’s construction was the cause of students and faculty getting sick.

“I think the ventilation is really bad there,” Butler said.

Student Phil Bock tutors in the Writing Center, and said he doesn’t seem to notice more sickness in the building than other places.

“If anything, maybe the Ag Sci building or basement of North Hall,” Bock said. “They’re so cold and damp all the time.”

Whatever the cause and whatever the symptoms, being sick is an unpleasant experience. With help from the health department, UWRF students have a way to make it a little bit easier.

To inquire about cold and flu kits, contact Student Health Services at 425-3293.