Flu season coming quickly to Storrs, students prepare
Published: Sunday, September 29, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2013 23:09
With the transition of seasons, the buzz of classrooms becomes muddled with dull coughs and sniffles as UConn gears up for the upcoming flu season.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season can start as early as October and end as late as May – and prompt preventative measures are key.
“I encourage as many people to get vaccinated as possible.” Michael Kurland, director of Student Health Services (SHS) said.
The Student Health Services at Storrs has already received an order of this season’s vaccine, and will be holding a flu clinic that is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 30 in the Student Union, where students can receive the vaccine free of charge.
Flu viruses continually change over time due to a process known as “antigenic drift,” according to the CDC. Although people may have developed antibodies against previous strains of the flu, the body may not recognize newer strains, causing another infection. In response to the changing flu virus, new vaccines must be developed each season and health officials advise to get vaccinated each season as such. The effectiveness of the vaccine, however, varies from season to season depending on the age and general health of the person being vaccinated, as well as how well the vaccine matches the season’s unique strain or strains of influenza, according to the CDC.
Symptoms of flu include, fever (or feverishness), cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue. In addition to getting vaccinated, students must ensure that they receive enough sleep, reduce stress, and receive proper nutrition to prevent contracting flu, Kurland suggests. Additionally, proper hygiene practices such as washing hands and keeping surfaces and areas that are commonly used such as dorms, desks, keyboards and cell phones, properly clean and disinfected are important preventative measures, according to Kurland. He also stressed the importance of covering coughs and sneezes with tissues or one’s upper arm rather than hands. Kurland recommends students to self-isolate when not feeling well.
A sophomore physiology and neurobiology student Farah Gazi feels that this precaution is often overlooked.
“People go to class sick all the time. It’s more difficult to avoid people who are sick,” she said.
She also suggested that it is difficult for students to skip classes when ill due to the large volume of material covered and the arduous task of having to catch up once class is missed.
“When flu season hits, we’re available 24/7 by phone or in person. … I advise people to seek medical care, even if simply over the phone,” said Kurland, as people can develop more serious conditions from flu if not properly treated.
Looking forward, SHS will be handing out “flu kits” including tissues, hand sanitizer and a thermometer to check for fever. Kurland also suggests visiting the CDC’s website (cdc.gov) as well as UConn’s own informational website on the flu (flu.uconn.edu) for more information on assessing symptoms, preventative measures, and options for treatment of this season’s flu virus.