Winter weather brings a new year, inches of glistening snow and warm and cozy nights. Best of all, winter weather means flu season is around the corner. During the upcoming months, not only do we have to do more thinking in advance (for example, warming up our cars before going two minutes down the road or rocking a ski mask during the walk from West to East Campus) but we also need to take precautions in avoiding the influenza virus. This virus is extremely serious, as it is very contagious and many strains are constantly circulating and causing illness.
Two of the most common influenza viruses are Type A and Type B. Both attack their victims with very little warning and are better known as “the common” or “the seasonal” flu. Type A influenza viruses can be broken down into sub-types, which are responsible for second attacks on people that have already succumbed to the virus.
As college students, we are always preparing for the future. In the case of the next few months, one simple and seemingly painless shot can prevent the most common influenza viruses. The flu shot is especially important for college students because of the constant traffic in and out of each building and the temperature rise in buildings (the climate in buildings being kept at a higher temperature can lead to lack of fresh air, which leads to constant circulation of the same, stale air).
Shepherd University is lucky enough to have a Health Center that can provide the service of administering the flu vaccine at two clinics during the fall semester. These clinics are important for students to take advantage of because of their low cost. Shepherd University offers the vaccine for $15.00, whereas other off-campus doctor’s offices offer the vaccine for as much as $30.00 (at least, that is how much I paid not knowing about the clinics Shepherd offers).
The Health Center accepts cash, Rambler, or checks. If you are like me and missed the clinics, vaccinations are available through appointment as well. The Health Center is located on the ground floor of Gardiner Hall and can be reached between the hours of 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be called at 304-876-5161.
The Center for Disease Control recommends that anyone six months and older receive the shot because the influenza virus most severely attacks people 5 years and younger and 65 years and older. The vaccine administered is the universal vaccine and helps prevent the most common influenza virus. Although most cases of influenza are mild, more than 90 percent of deaths in the age category of 65 and older are from the virus. People in the category of 65 and older are not the only at risk for influenza related deaths; over 49,000 deaths in the age category of 65 and younger occur from the Influenza virus each year.
Students at Shepherd University can avoid succumbing to this virus by taking some precautions in advance. First and foremost, get vaccinated. It may seem silly but could possibly prevent you from missing any future classes and prevent you from passing the virus to someone else.
If you do find yourself with flu-like symptoms, the fact that you have been vaccinated could make the symptoms less severe. If you notice you are beginning to feel ill, weak, tired, stuffy, or anything out of the ordinary, report to the Health Center. A check-up can do nothing but help you. Remember to use the hand sanitizers scattered throughout campus. These are located in some of the most common areas on campus and in some restrooms. If you notice that you have a fever, the Center for Disease Control recommends at least 24 hours of rest and lots of water. Prevention is the best way to combat this deadly virus.