By Anna Kellaher
Between classes, clubs and sports, the last thing any college student needs is to be knocked out for two weeks from the flu.
This year, the influenza virus is particularly active and has lead to high numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. Flu season can be intimidating, but here are some easy ways to stay healthy during the remaining weeks:
Get a flu shot. You may feel like you’re late to the game, but flu season can extend as late as May. This year’s vaccine will reduce your risk of getting the flu by about 33 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While the vaccine is less effective this year than it has been in the past, any level of protection will help keep the virus at bay.
Flu shots are available on campus at Student Health Services or off campus at CVS, Walgreens and ShopRite.
Minimize the spreading of germs by not sharing food, drinks, lip balm or anything else that touches your mouth. Sharing is caring, but the flu virus is contagious for 24 hours before symptoms appear, so you’re better safe than sorry.
Wash your hands often. Hand sanitizer is a convenient option, but it’s not as effective at killing germs as soap and warm water. Wash for at least 20 seconds –– about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” in your head twice.
Keep your immune system strong by getting enough sleep, eating healthy and exercising regularly. Minimize your stress levels –– long term stress can weaken your immune system.
Recognize symptoms of the flu, including fatigue, body aches, chills, coughing and a sore throat. If you think you have the flu, contact your healthcare provider or Student Health Services and try to stay away from others as much as possible to prevent spreading the infection.