Students urged to take precautions against the flu

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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted the United States is at the peak of an extremely active flu season as of the first week of January. Of the 50 states, Hawaii is the only state not showing the flu as widespread, and the Moffitt Health Center of The University of Southern Mississippi urges students to be prepared.

Kayla S. Johnson, Health Educator and Promotions Coordinator for the Moffitt Health Center, said there were about 200 cases of the flu on campus, and the clinic is gearing up for the spring semester’s returning students. The clinic offers immunizations and allergy shots among other accommodations to all USM students.

With the flu season at its peak, students should be aware of tactics to stay healthy. Johnson said there are three key parts to flu prevention. “Get your flu shot, take precautions to stay well, and take your flu medications if the doctor prescribes them.”

Flu shots are important to staying healthy during the flu season. The CDC says on its official website even healthy people can become seriously ill from the flu and spread it to others. The best way to reduce risk of getting the flu is to get an annual vaccination. They punctuate the statement by saying, “When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.”

Johnson also said to avoid contact with sick people, wash your hands regularly with soap and water, disinfect surfaces and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The CDC adds that managing stress, being physically active and sleeping and eating well helps to keep you healthy.

Healthline.com lists the early symptoms of the flu as being fatigue, body aches and chills, cough, sore throat, fever and gastrointestinal problems. Whereas, cold symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, body aches and general fatigue.

“To determine whether your symptoms are from a cold or from the flu, you need to see your doctor,” according to Healthline. “Your doctor will run tests that can help determine what’s behind your symptoms.”

If already sick, it is best to avoid the general public and reduce the spread of germs by keeping your mouth covered when sneezing or coughing. Johnson said that it is important to take flu medications if the doctor prescribes them because the antiviral medications treat and lessen the severity of the illness.

“Our staff works with the Office of Student Ombudsman Services and Residence Life to assist in making arrangements to limit exposure of the sick patient to others,” Johnson said. “They receive a class excuse and are encouraged to limit contact with others… until they are symptom free for at least 48 hours.”

The flu can be very dangerous to students. The Mississippi State Department of Health reported the flu was most common among the ages of five to 24 over this flu season.

The Moffitt Health Center is available to students and accepts most insurance providers. The clinic’s hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday. There is a $20 fee for students to see a health care provider, and the clinic also offers a full-service pharmacy for students to get medications filled during operating hours.