The flu on campus

Kristen Brainard

Flu season is in full swing, and health officials say it’s one of the worst they have seen. Not only is this a national issue, but also a local campus issue. 

At UNF, the flu has been moderately active this flu season. There have been 58 people tested in student health services since November, and 21 tested positive, according to Patricia Richards, Director of Student Health. None of the 21 students had gotten a flu shot, so they were more likely to get it.

Richards urges students to get their flu shots this flu season. It’s free to all students, she said, and $20 for staff members. The clinic is also free to all students, so if a student thinks they may have the flu, a test can be given to confirm. The best way for a student to keep themselves healthy is to utilize the health services provided on campus. 

Student health services began with 400 flu shots, and still has 140 left to administer. In addition to the flu shot, they also have informational handouts with tips to prevent sickness. 

According to Richards, the best ways to prevent the flu are somewhat commonplace. The flu shot, which inserts the virus into the body for the immune system to fight, can be effective. In addition, she says it is important for students to drink a lot of fluids, wash their hands frequently, and eat healthy food. Consuming high amounts of Vitamin C can also strengthen the immune system. Richards also recommends carrying a hand sanitizer around campus, since the flu can linger in sneaky areas. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there have been 64,000 reported cases of the flu this season, with cases in 33 states. There have been five pediatric deaths, and 32 overall deaths resulting from the flu. 

The flu is a respiratory illness, which can bring symptoms of a fever, chills, headaches, body aches, and more. It is spread through airborne particles, so anyone can get it from touching contaminated surfaces, or swapping saliva. The flu comes in two types, A and B. With the B strain, symptoms are worse and the sickness is stronger. 

Flu germs can hide in places like dorm rooms, lounges, study rooms and door handles. Senior Director of Housing Robert Boyle recommends students to clean dorm room knobs, handles, faucets, especially if their roommate may be sick. Boyle also ensures that all public residential buildings are being cleaned extra thoroughly due to the high flu rates. These places include the lounges, study rooms, and restrooms. 

To some, the flu shot is taboo, and they refuse to get it. UNF student Tanmeeka Ahuja said that most of her friends avoiding getting the flu shot, because they heard it would make them sick.  Richards ensures that the myths about the flu shot making you sick, are not true. She says a fear of needles, or doctors, is not a good excuse. The flu shot is the best way to prevent from getting the flu. 

If a student gets sick, and they suspect it might be the flu, it is important that they drink plenty of water, get lots of rest, and visit student health services to get a diagnosis and a treatment plan. Tamiflu can be used to reduce the duration of flu symptoms as well. 

The flu has taken its toll on many Americans this flu season, but with the right precautions, UNF students can avoid falling victim to this deadly illness. 

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