The Flu and U: bracing for a bad flu season

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By Meghan Creane

Picture 1Immediately upon return from winter break the campus was hit with a fear of the flu. While the problem is statewide and “the worst flu season since at least 2009,” in the words of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, being in such tight quarters on a college campus increases the rate of transmission between students.

Chris Allen ‘14 noted that “being around so many people all the time definitely makes me feel more likely to get the flu. Plus, every time I feel even a little sick I get really worried that it’s the beginning of the flu.” Allen’s fear of the flu being everywhere is not far from the reality of flu transmission. As RN of the Health Center Anita Brudos informs, the flu can be transmitted simply by “touching your face after shaking hands or touching doorknobs, etc.”

As a precautionary measure, Brudos has a mantra of “washing your hands, washing your hands, washing your hands” that she encourages students to live by during cold and flu season. She also strongly encourages students to “stay in your room if you are sick” and hopefully “have your roommate bring you some soup.” Students like Lathrop Kelly ‘15 have also been “taking extra vitamins (specifically) Vitamin C tablets, sleeping as much as possible and drinking a lot of water,” to try and steer clear of the flu this season.

The most obvious way to protect against the flu is to get the yearly vaccine, which is recommended for “all people six months and older” and “will protect against three different flu viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus,” according to the New York State Department of Health. The vaccine has been so popular among Union students that as of Jan. 11, the Health Center announced that  they are out of flu shots, as are their suppliers. However, according to their website, surrounding pharmacies have an “ample supply” of flu vaccines left. For more information on these pharmacies and the best way to get to and from your appointment go to http://www.union.edu/offices/health/.

As Phil Hackleman ‘15 said, the flu is not something you want to be exposed to. “I had the flu for about six days and it was the worst. I had chills and a fever for the whole six days and was throwing up for most of it. It was like having a cold times 20 and it really wiped me out.” Hackleman did not get the flu shot this year and does not plan to now after having just gotten over the flu, but his story is a cautionary one for anyone who is on the fence about getting a flu shot.

According to resident Sean Read ‘13, flu shots were not something the occupants of 821 Union Street even thought twice about getting.

“We all got the flu shot and so far none of us has had the flu,” said Read, despite the fact that Read refers to his house as a “danger zone” for the flu, given the close living spaces.

In some cases, like for members of the women’s hockey team, the flu shot was deemed mandatory because, according to Haley Welch ‘15, “we are all together in the locker room so much that it just seems like germs are more likely to spread.”

However, the general consensus on campus seems to be one of caution, but not fear.

Students are wary of sharing drinks and being too close to sick friends and roommates, but overall it seems that all know the best way to stay healthy, and are aware that theyhave plenty of resources to take advantage in order to stay  healthy.

 

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