By Mine’ Perry
The time has come for coughing, sneezing, and runny noses. That’s right: it’s flu season. Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious viral respiratory infection that feels like a severe cold. The symptoms of the flu include high fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, muscle pain, and weakness. Sounds uncomfortable right? No one wants to get the flu, especially busy college students.
Although there are a lot of people getting sick, there are many things you can do to prevent the flu. Simple, every day things include washing hands for at least 20 seconds, covering coughs and sneezes, and drinking plenty of fluids. Although these methods are effective, the most effective way to prevent the flu is to get the flu shot.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu shot is an inactivated vaccine (containing the killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. There is also a nasal spray. Yearly vaccinations should begin around the fall/winter seasons. Vaccines can be given anywhere they are available, such as a drug store or a doctor’s office.
People who are recommended to get the flu shot are pregnant women, children younger than 5 (but especially children younger than two years old), people 50 years of age and older, people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and people who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from the flu. Side effects from the shot include soreness or redness where the shot was received, low fevers, and aches. So, while out traveling around campus as well as the city, do not forget to take precautions to prevent getting sick.