Tis’ the season… for getting sick. Now that the holiday season is behind us, we have another season to look forward to: Flu season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that this year’s flu has reached a peak not seen since the Swine Flu Pandemic in 2009.
What makes this year’s flu so dangerous is the increased proliferation of the Influenza A-H3N2 strain.
Typically we have a multitude of strains of the flu circulating at a time, but whenever we have one strain that is more prevalent than others, we can generally predict that that strain is going to be far more fatal than usual.
More alarming is the virus’ widespread expansion into 49 out of the 50 U.S. states, including our very own New York.
Not only has the rate of hospitalization increased profoundly over the past two months, but CDC officials say that we still have several weeks to go before flu season officially comes to an end.
That being said, it is imperative that we know how to protect ourselves and our families from getting sick.
On a crowded college campus, students remain easy targets for the tiny microorganisms looking to invade their immune systems.
Ensure that you remain protected from this virus by not forgetting to maintain simple acts of hygiene like washing your hands and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, as germs can easily enter through those openings.
Sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow and make sure you use a tissue and wash your hands right away.
Additionally, carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer every day, for moments when you’re not near to a sink.
It is also extremely important that we limit the spread of disease in our homes and campuses.
To prevent this from happening, it remains crucial that we don’t share anything that our mouth touches.
This includes anything from cups, to utensils to toothbrushes.
It is also important that we clean and disinfect things we touch and use everyday, such as laptops and cell phones—disinfectant wipes are perfect for this.
One of the most essential and preventive methods for not getting sick is one of the most obvious, yet easily forgotten: Getting the flu shot.
The flu shot is one of the most efficient precautionary measures to avoid the flu.
But less than half of all Americans are actually vaccinated; college students make up a large group of those who remain unvaccinated.
If you are already sick, you should still go get vaccinated to prevent yourself from other strains of the virus.
With almost any insurance, pharmacies like Walgreens or Duane Read offer free in-store vaccinations.
Your doctor’s office should also offer this shot for free, granted you have insurance.
If you don’t have insurance, here is a list of clinics offering low-cost vaccinations for students with a college ID:
Costco: $19.99 for a quadrivalent (protecting against four strains of Influenza) vaccine
CVS: $41 for quadrivalent
Walgreens: $31.99 for trivalent (protecting against three strains of Influenza), $39.99 for quadrivalent
Rite Aid: $35 for trivalent. $40 for quadrivalent
Walmart: $27.88 for trivalent, $39.88 for quadrivalent
Sam’s Club: $30 for quadrivalent
Target: $39.99 for quadrivalent
Call 311 for more information on more clinics near you offering free vaccinations, and remember to contact your physician if you are sick or displaying any flu-like symptoms to get properly assessed and treated.
Take advantage of all these opportunities and protect yourself! Remember, your health matters.