By: Graham Browning, Columnist
As you have noticed by absences in classes and the incessant coughing in the halls, flu season is here. You already know the symptoms: body aches, chills, sneezing, coughing, headache, general fatigue, and a fever between 102 and 106 degrees. Most of these symptoms dissipate after four to seven days, but as Furman students, this can be an academic death sentence. The flu, or influenza, is a virus that usually spread through droplets from coughing and sneezing. Gross, I know.
College students are especially susceptible to the flu because of our active and social lifestyles. We run down our immune systems with stress, poor eating habits, and lack of sleep. We casually take swigs from each others’ water tumblers and Starbucks cups. As proper Southerners, we hug and close-talk at least twenty times a day. While we are prone to this virus, we are also very lucky to have preventative resources at affordable costs.
According to the CDC, the best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine. Trust me, I hate shots just as much as the next person, but I had the flu during finals sophomore year because I did not get the vaccine and I definitely learned my lesson. The strain of flu virus changes over time and the vaccine changes along with it to be most effective. It is important to stay current and get the vaccine every year to beat the virus to the punch.
The infirmary has the newest vaccine available for only twenty dollars. Since they are trying to get everyone vaccinated, they are more than willing to comply with our busy schedules. It takes no time at all and is worth the tiny pinch. Local pharmacies may offer free vaccination with membership or certain insurance plans. You can simply walk into any CVS, Walgreens, or even Publix to check your insurance’s policies. The only real possible side effects of getting the shot are low fever, slight aching, and redness at the injection site. In the grand scheme of things, the risk of experiencing these rare side effects is worth taking to avoid getting the full-fledged flu.
There are simple things you can do to further protect yourself from days of suffering and snot. Frequent and thorough hand washing is critical. Drying your hands well is also important because germs thrive in damp conditions and often people do not take a few extra seconds to dry their hands after cleansing them of germs in the first place. Keep little hand sanitizers with you for in-between germ killing. There are individual bottles available for free at the infirmary and sanitation stations around campus. Try to avoid your friends when they are sick. I know you beautiful souls want to deliver soup and tissues to your besties, but staying away is the safest option. If you do come down with the flu, keep water, tissues, decongestants, and pain relievers on hand to keep your symptoms under control.