With the change of season also comes a change in taking care of your health. According to The Centers for Disease Control, in order to prevent illness, students need to keep good health habits such as getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing your stress, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious food. These habits are even more important as we are approaching flu season. College campuses can be a party for the flu, which is caused by the influenza virus, a contagious respiratory illness. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Students must remember to constantly wash their hands, which will help protect against germs. The most advised way of preventing the flu this season is to get a flu shot right away.
In the past two weeks, the WCU Health Center has received 250 doses of the flu vaccine and the remainder of the total order of 1,000 doses has not yet been received. Student flu shots are currently available by appointment and have been given since last week. The fee is $20 and students may pay by check, Ram card or be put on hold for payment at a later date. Staff and faculty had the opportunity to pre-register for free flu shots paid for by the state of Pennsylvania; the exact date for the staff/faculty flu clinic has not yet been confirmed. A student flu shot clinic will be held in Sykes on November 8 and November 15 from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. The fee for the flu shot is $20. During the clinic, accepted payment is by check.
According to www.cdc.com, each year on average, the flu infects five to 20 percent of the U.S. population, more than 200,000 are hospitalized due to complications from the virus and about 36,000 people die from it. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
Symptoms include high fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches and stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomitting and diarrhea also can occur but are more common in children than adults. The flu virus spreads from person to person through coughing and sneezing. Most times, healthy adults are able to infect others one day before symptoms begin and up to five days after becoming sick.
The American College Health Association highly recommends college students receive the influenza vaccine. According to their monthly notice to U.S. residential colleges and universities, the virus can infect even those who are healthy and symptoms may last as long as a week which may result in missed classes, assignments, exams or work days. College students can also spread the virus to local communities and family members, some of who may be at risk of complication such as the elderly or the very young. According to the notice, the FDA and the CDC’s best projection is that about 110-115 million doses of the influenza vaccine will be produced for the 2006-2007 flu season. The supply is predicted to exceed the amount of doses than in years past.
Last year, the WCU Health Center did not receive their requested flu vaccine due to a nationwide shortage. In February 2006, the Chester County Health Department gave 450 free doses of flu vaccine to the University for students and staff, but only 102 individuals chose to be immunized with this vaccine. During the spring 2006 semester, 26 students were diagnosed with flu at the health center. Diagnosis was by physical exam and a flu test performed at the health center.