Health on the Hilltop: how to combat flu season

The time of year where it seems like the entire campus is sick is finally upon us. Fortunately, modern medicine allows you to protect yourself against most strains of the flu.

According to Megan Springer, a family nurse practitioner at St. Edward’s University Health and Counseling Center, flu season starts around November and can run all the way to February or March.

Springer adds that right now is the perfect time to get a flu shot.

“[The shot] is an inactivated vaccine, so there’s no live virus in it,” said Springer. She says anyone can get the flu shot, but doesn’t recommend it for people with egg allergies because of a preservative containing trace amounts of egg.

Springer also does not recommend getting the shot if you are running a fever.

Flu shots are recommended every year because the strain of flu changes frequently, so the vaccine must be updated as well. Your flu shot from last year will not protect you against this season’s strain.

If you think getting a flu shot is right for you, the Health & Counseling center is currently offering shots for $20 for students and $30 for faculty and staff. If a student has the university health insurance plan, however, the shot is covered under it.

The Center for Disease Control recommends the flu shot as the most important step to preventing the flu. But if you feel like the shot just is not for you, there are other things you can do to keep yourself and those around you healthy.

Be sure to wash your hands frequently. If you find yourself in a rush, carry hand sanitizer in your purse, pocket or backpack. You can assure you will always be ready to get rid of germs.

Additionally, watch how you sneeze. Always sneeze into your elbow, rather than your hands, to slow the spread of germs. Carry Kleenex that will help you take care of your runny nose and coughs.

If you are already sick, treat your symptoms as well as possible. Don’t drag yourself to class, especially if you have a fever. Give yourself time to rest before trying to tackle stressful obligations. Stay hydrated, and eat foods that will boost nutrition instead of lower it. Avoid contact with others to reduce the chance of spreading your germs.