As Ebola headlines continue to run across the fronts of newspapers and media coverage sites, many have forgotten that “flu season” has just arrived. Every year a new form of influenza spreads across college campuses infecting thousands of students. Luckily, influenza is nearly preventable with a simple vaccination from your local physician or near by drug store. “I usually go to Walgreens closer to home to get my flu shots,” says Alyssa Anderson, a psychology major.
Despite Ebola’s recent reign as a “threat to U.S. citizens,” the number of people who catch the flu each year far exceeds the number of currently documented U.S. Ebola cases. Every year an estimated 200,000 people hospitalized from seasonal flu related problems. Within the past 20 years, estimated flu associated deaths range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.
Flu symptoms often consist of chills, fatigue, body aches, cough, sore throat, fever, runny or stuffy nose, nausea and vomiting. The infection generally lasts anywhere between three and five days, which could cause many to miss a few days of school. “Last year I made the mistake of skipping out on my flu vaccination and it was the biggest mistake ever,” said Stephan Lestin, biology major. “Of course I caught the flu so I had to miss class and a quiz.”
The NYC Department of Health is pushing for influenza vaccinations even though some students still view them as unnecessary or even insufficient. That’s what Catherine Reeds thinks. “I received one last year and I still caught the flu,” says the English major. “So it just wasn’t worth it for me.”
In addition to receiving the vaccination, other precautions to take to prevent the spread of influenza, include, avoiding close contact with other students who show symptoms of the flu. This reduces the likelihood of contraction. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth–so don’t do that. Finally, washing your hands frequently reduces the spread of germs and bacteria.
Click here for more information on flu (and Ebola) prevention, from CCNY’s Student Health Services.