As students brave the arctic weather this week, they should also be cautious by not only wearing layers when going outside but also practicing good hygiene this winter. Influenza A seems to be lead strain during this flu season, however, it is too early in the season to determine the dominant strain according to Assistant Director of Communications of the Ohio Department of Health, J.C. Benton.
He said the flu has caused over a thousand hospitalizations in Ohio this flu season, which is remarkably less than 7,353, which was the same time period in last year’s season. Additionally, those are at risk for the flu are pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and the immuno-compromised.
In addition to, the Ohio Department of Health reported Cuyahoga county with the highest number of hospitalizations, over three hundred, caused by the flu in the third week of the season. Currently, the flu is most affecting the northeast region in Ohio.
Students should get the flu shot earlier in the flu season or before the season begins, as it will help them fight off flu, should they get it. If an individual experiences fever, chills and body aches, they are advised to seek immediate medical attention according to Nurse Practioner at the University Health Center, James Crowley.
The flu shot contains several types of strands, which has been proven effective later in the season and does not cause an individual to get the flu Crowley explained. Usually students are able to get the flu shot at The University Health Center, however, it has run out of shots due to a shortage of shots nationwide. Although it’s cheaper at the health center, Crowley says students can also go to a local pharmacy to receive their shot. Some of the nearest pharmacies are CVS, Walgreens, and the pharmacy in Walmart.
Once the health center is restocked with supplies students can once again get their flu shot and pay with insurance. If a student is not insured, they can pay out of pocket which should be under $50 for the flu shot.
If students are not sure about their symptoms being flu-like, and it is after hours at the health center, Crowley advises them to go to their local Urgent Care or ER. He said once students came back from break, he saw a lot more cases at the health center of patients coming in with the flu just within that first week.
The flu should not be taken lightly and should be treated as a priority, “Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Although most people fully recover from the flu, some experience severe illness like pneumonia and respiratory failure, and the flu can sometimes be fatal.” Said Benton in an email, explaining the severity of the flu and its symptoms.
Safety precautions include sneezing into your elbow or tissue, hand washing, using hand sanitizer and wiping down counters. If flu-like symptoms arise, Crowley said to “Push the fluids, lots of rest and avoid contact. The flu is very very contagious.”
The CDC said, “Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.”
“It’s not too late to get a flu shot, and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone six months old and older get one as the best protection against seasonable flu viruses. It takes about two weeks for a flu shot to take full effect.” said Benton in an email.