Flu season strikes the University

Jaxon White, News Section Co-Editor

Flu season is filling the waiting room at Student Health.

According to medical director of Bucknell Student Health Catherine O’Neil, there has been a significant increase in student visitations to the health center this fall compared to last fall.  “The visits have been mostly for upper respiratory tract infections. This is not surprising, as last year at this time the entire country saw a significant decrease in URI’s due to broadly practiced social distancing and masking,” O’Neil said. 

O’Neil points to the relaxed restrictions on social gatherings as a possible source. “As social activities have increased across the country, we are seeing a corresponding wide range of viruses that are typically present in the fall,” O’Neil said. 

Riley Beebe ’23, noted that she finally recovered last week from an illness that has been affecting her for multiple weeks. She chose not to visit Student Health due to scheduling conflicts.

“Appointments for student health are hard to get, and last time I was there I waited almost an hour to be seen. The doctors are knowledgeable but don’t offer any realistic advice. [Last time] they just tested me for COVID and said there was nothing they could do,” Beebe said. 

Braden Stryker ’25 visited the Health Center on Wednesday because he believed he had pink eye. He said he had a different experience than Beebe. 

“I called and they had an appointment available in 30 minutes which was incredibly fast. There were about five others in the waiting room with me, but the wait was only 15 minutes” Stryker said. 

The wait for an available doctor, noted Stryker, was a particular nuisance. 

“I waited more in the room for the doctor as well, which usually would be okay, but I only have a short window of time between classes that I can go to Student Health, so I was late to my next class,” Stryker said. 

Despite concerns of inconvenience, O’Neil stressed that all students experiencing symptoms must be tested in some capacity. “There is no consistent way for an individual to determine whether they have COVID or another viral infection by symptoms alone. The best way to know whether a person has COVID or not is to get tested,” O’Neil said. 

Students with “mild” symptoms can schedule an appointment through the Aura App, consistent with protocol from previous semesters. If a student is experiencing “significant symptoms,” however, they should could Student Health to set up an appointment, said O’Neil. 

Despite University encouragement, student COVID tests have seen a steady decline in the past few weeks, according to the University’s COVID Dashboard. 

On October 6 Student Health administered tests to 116 students. The highest number since then was on October 13, where only 63 students were tested. October 18 and 19 were the next highest since then at 28 and 29, respectively. 

“The best way to prevent serious illness and spread of disease is to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu, continue to wear a mask when outside of your residence, keep your distance from others if you do feel sick and get tested,” O’Neil explained.

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