It’s that time of year again—football, pumpkin patches, leaves turning and the dreaded flu season. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu viruses can be detected year round but are most common in the fall and winter and start to increase more in October.
What is the flu? It is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and other areas of the body. The flu can last anywhere from one to two weeks, depending on your type of response to the illness and your level of care. Common symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, body aches and fatigue.
The flu commonly spreads through coughing, sneezing and increased interaction with those who have become sick. Even though the high-risk groups are mainly children and the elderly, we as college students should still be aware and cautious.
What do you do if you become sick? The majority of time you do not need to seek medical attention, and you can overcome the illness with self-care including staying home, avoiding contact with other people and hydrating. There are medications your doctor can prescribe that, along with rest, will speed up the process of healing, getting you up and running again in no time. But all of this could be easily prevented by taking a trip to the UNO Health Center.
Prevention of the flu can be as simple as receiving a flu shot, which is an influenza vaccination. You can get these in a number of locations—doctor’s offices, pharmacies and students can get the shot for free at the UNO Health Center on campus. To get vaccinated on campus is easy, simply schedule an appointment with the health center, bring your MavCard and fill out a flu shot form.
Getting your flu shot is extremely important because we all go to a campus with many different students, faculty and staff. We ride the shuttle arm-to-arm, live in the dorms or participate in activities, making it easy to spread germs and get sick.
“The annual influenza vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against the disease,” according to the UNO Health Center.
Even if you got the shot last year, you should get vaccinated yearly, as the virus changes and mutates rapidly and is always different than the year before.
“Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine,” according to the CDC website.
Sometimes after receiving the flu shot you can develop a mild fever and muscle pains, though it is uncommon. For me, I always develop a mild fever and muscle pains after every flu shot, but I continue to get them because I know that flu symptoms can be much more serious. Even though I get these reactions with the majority of vaccinations I receive, I understand the importance of getting vaccinated, in order to keep myself and others healthy.
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s better and easier to stop a problem from happening than to fix it after it has happened. Taking the time to get a flu shot may save you and others a week or two of misery in the future.