Flu vs. You

More stories from Anthony Pham

This year is one of the most, if not the most, intense flu seasons. As of now, every state with the exception of Hawaii has confirmed cases of flu. Currently we’re on the third straight week of increasing flu activity.

According to Dr. Daniel Jernigan, of the CDC’s influenza division, we have not even hit the peak of flu season this year yet. Even here in New York state, we currently have over 8,000 active cases of flu being treated at this very moment.

Major symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches. Most people compare it to a more severe version of a common cold. Some early warning signs of flu sudden or excessive tiredness and body aches. Some reasons why many individuals are getting the flu this year more so than most is that flu season started earlier than it has ever been. Due to the early start, many individuals that usually would be vaccinated at that point in time, were not vaccinated in time to protect themselves from the current common strains.

The other major issue with this year’s flu season is that the predominant strain is the most intense, H3N2. This strain causes the strongest outbreaks of two varieties influenza A and the two types of influenza B. This strain as well is smarter than many other strains as it changes fast to adapt to a person’s immune system.

The biggest problem is that even with a really good flu vaccine, it’s only at best 60% effective at doing its job right and protecting you. Even with this low success rate, it is still recommended that you get a vaccine. Even if a person is typically perfectly healthy, they are still recommended to get a flu shot to provide an additional defense.

When it comes to preventing flu, there are numerous recommendations. First is to make sure you wash your hands! This protects against the spread of germs. On campus, the spread of germs is rampant as it’s a more densely packed area with people coming and going on a daily basis. Keep high contact areas and items sanitized often, such as door knobs, remotes, and even cell phones. Something handy to do is to wash your bedding and towels often while sick, to sanitize them and to keep the germs at bay. Something smart to have in your backpack is hand sanitizer for those moments when you need it!

On campus, if you’re not feeling well, head on down to the Wellness Center! Or if you haven’t gotten your vaccine yet, anyone 18 years and older can head into any pharmacy to get a flu shot at their convenience. It is never too late to get the vaccine! The best defense is to be prepared for it, and to avoid contact with those that are symptomatic.