By Kelly Martella ’21
As the cool autumn weather starts to roll in, it brings with it flu season.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) generally considers flu season to be from October to May, peaking during the winter months from December to February.
Recently the United States has seen some of its worst influenza rates in history, considering 2017-2018 to have been a “high-severity season.”
No one ever wants to get sick, and flu symptoms can be particularly intense. Many of the signs are similar to those of the common cold: cough, sneeze, sore throat, etc.
However, the CDC indicates that the flu may also include symptoms such as headaches, body aches, fever/chills, and overall fatigue, all of which tend to come on suddenly.
Fortunately, there are some ways to lower your risk of infection and save yourself the trouble. The CDC suggests that you can practice basic healthy habits, such as frequent hand washing, covering your cough or sneeze, and disinfecting surfaces to prevent the flu.
The most recommended and successful method of prevention, though, is vaccination.
Studies by the CDC estimate the flu vaccine reduces the risk of hospitalization by about 40 percent. Even if hospitalized for symptoms, adults who were vaccinated spent on average of four days less in the ICU than those unvaccinated, and were 59 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU at all.
While some may be leery about shots, the flu vaccine only needs to be received once annually, and the side effects are usually mild. Some people are also reluctant because they believe that they may get the flu from the flu shot; the CDC, however, disproves this myth, saying, “the vaccines either contain inactivated virus, meaning the viruses are no longer infections, or a particle designed to look like a flu virus to your immune system.”
The flu virus is mostly contracted from person to person, and the CDC points out that it can spread from up to six feet away.
While it is great to be a part of such a tight-knit community, the closeness of a campus living environment gives students lots of exposure to infection.
This is why it is especially important for college students to get the flu vaccination.
A survey by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), however, found that only 46 percent of college students in the U.S. said they receive the flu shot.
For students who have not gotten a vaccine yet, it is not too late.
Health Services will be hosting its third and final student flu shot clinic on Wednesday, November 14.
Students can receive their flu shot right on campus in ’64 Hall from 5-8 p.m. It is recommended that you pre-register online (at www.thewellcomp.com), but walk-ins will also be accepted at the clinic.
Finally, if you notice any of the flu symptoms, stay in bed!
The CDC recommends that “you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.” This will not only allow for rest and recovery, but it will also prevent the illness from spreading to others.
It is important to note that if symptoms persist or if you have other health concerns that could further put you at risk, students should seek medical attention. For further information about flu clinics, or any health concerns throughout the year, stop by the Student Health Center in lower Bedford, or call them at 401-865-2422.