When Sophie Bennett (COL ’23) woke up with a sore throat, she immediately set out to get a COVID-19 test.
Bennett chose to stay home and seek out tests for additional illnesses while awaiting her COVID-19 test results.
“I decided not to go to classes because I realized that I had been in contact with a friend that has the flu and that could be a possible reason for my sore throat rather than the common cold,” Bennett said in an interview with The Hoya.
According to Bennett, the Student Health Center (SHC) turned her away for testing when she reported that she did not have a fever.
“After following up with one of the doctors at the Student Health Center, it was advised that I stay home, get rest and not go to classes but not go to get tested for the flu just because they are focusing on patients who are more sick right now,” Bennett said.
Now, Bennett has a negative COVID-19 test but is still unclear on why she is feeling sick.
Amid increased health anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic, students are now occupied with a new concern: the flu. As of Sept. 13, Georgetown University has recorded 65 confirmed cases of Influenza A on the main campus and at the Medical Center, according to Dr. Ranit Mishori (MED ’02). Amid the spread of this strain, students reported facing barriers to flu testing and treatment at the SHC.
Positive cases can be attributed to the social behaviors of a college campus, according to Mishori.
“It is unusual for the flu to spread so early in the season,” Mishori wrote in an email to The Hoya. “But the close proximity, density, and social behaviors of people in college settings are the perfect facilitators for influenza (or any other infectious disease) to spread.”
The university has announced free flu vaccine clinics Sept. 19 and Sept. 23 for undergraduate students, according to a Sept. 16 email from Mishori to the Georgetown community. The university will also host a communitywide flu vaccination clinic in October.
Dilara Kamrava (COL ’23) expressed similar concerns about the inaccessibility of the SHC.
“I started having some really severe flu symptoms, got tested for COVID the same day and was negative,” Kamrava wrote in a GroupMe message to The Hoya. “I tried going through the Health Center to get tested for flu, but they don’t take walk-ins and didn’t have an appointment for the next 10 days.”
Kamrava said she eventually scheduled a test through the One Medical app, a primary care provider available to Georgetown community members. As a result, Kamrava said she took a flu test off campus.
When asked about the university’s strategies to contain the influenza outbreak, a university spokesperson redirected The Hoya to a Sept. 10 email from Mishori.
Viha Vishwanathan (MSB ’24) said she was able to successfully schedule a test through the SHC while experiencing flu-like symptoms.
“It was difficult to schedule an appointment by calling the office, since I called a few times and no one answered the phone,” Vishwanathan wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I am not sure if this was a connectivity issue, or if the office was backlogged. I went to the office to schedule an appointment, and they were able to give me an appointment for the next day.”
While students who test positive for the flu or come in close contact with an individual who has tested positive are not required to isolate or quarantine, they should limit in-person activities and wear a mask when around others, according to Mishori.
“You should stay home and wear a mask around others if you’ve been infected or have symptoms that can be related to the flu or COVID-19,” Mishori wrote.